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.