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How to Use Less Water on Your Yard

Thirty to 60 percent of urban fresh water is used for watering, and much of this is wasted. Learn to care for your lawn—and conserve water.


  • Step 1: Plant native shrubs, trees, and flowers that are adapted to the rainfall in your area.
  • Step 2: Plant low, spreading plants such as sedum to provide living ground cover, which holds moisture in your soil.
  • Step 3: Limit the amount of yard space given over to thirsty lawn, and increase the amount given to native plants or natural habitat.
  • Step 4: If you use sprinklers, turn them on in early morning or after dusk rather than at midday, to reduce evaporation.
  • Step 5: Adjust your sprinkler heads so the water droplets are large; fine mist evaporates more easily, so it doesn’t get to your plants’ roots.
  • Step 6: Use micro or drip irrigation, a system of pipes or hoses that deliver water directly to the base of the plant. Drip irrigation is around 90% efficient, unlike regular sprinkler systems, where up to 50% of the water is wasted.
  • TIP: New plants require more water for their first few growing seasons until root systems become established. After that, water less often and plants will still thrive.
  • Step 7: Don’t overfeed your lawn; generally lawns only need water every 5 days, and you don’t need to water when there has been rain. Fertilize only twice a year, in spring and fall.
  • Step 8: Keep your lawn healthy with less water use by leaving grass longer when you mow—up to three inches—and leaving the cut ends on top of the lawn.
  • TIP: Soil with high sand or clay content may have trouble using water efficiently. Add compost to your garden beds to keep plants healthy with less water.
  • Step 9: Mulch with bark, wood chips, grass clippings, or other plant material where the ground is bare, such as around trees and in flower beds. Mulching can make your soil 50% moister and controls those pesky weeds.
  • FACT: Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that conserves water through such practices as careful and creative plant choice and placement.

You Will Need

  • Native plants and drought-resistant landscaping
  • Low
  • spreading plants to provide ground cover
  • Water-efficient sprinklers
  • Drip irrigation lines
  • Mulch

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