From saving on your water bill to helping the earth, conserving water is a fabulous idea for any homeowner. The good news is that water conservation is relatively simple. There are typically three aspects to consider when laying out a plan to save water:
- Use less
To help you get started, we’ve highlighted some practical ways to conserve water in your lawn and garden.
First and foremost, you can save on water by preventing waste. Some of the ways you can do this are by watering your lawn and garden in the morning or evening, so the midday sun doesn’t burn it up almost immediately. You can also invest in smart irrigation systems to gauge moisture levels in soil and administer the required amounts of water. And while it’s common sense, it’s still worth mentioning: be sure to turn sprinklers and hoses off while it’s raining, and regularly check your irrigation system for leaks.
Rainwater is a free and useful provision you can use to nourish your lawn and garden. You can use a dedicated rain barrel such as a 50-gallon drum or an assortment of buckets. The method doesn’t matter as long as the water is being collected! And the best part? Aside from setting the bucket or barrel under your downspout, nothing else is required of you until it comes time to water. Additionally, for commercial applications, companies like Watts manufacture rainwater harvesting systems that capture, store, treat and deliver potable water for many different end uses.
Collect Warm-up Water
Many of us turn the tub or shower on and let the water heat up without thinking twice about the amount of wasted water rushing down the drain. Put this precious resource to good use by capturing it in a bucket and storing it in an even larger container or your rain barrel for future use.
Be Careful When You Plant
While a surprising number of landscapers plant during times of drought, this is not a practice you should repeat. Even though it’s possible to plant vegetation during a drought, the amount of water it takes to get them to take root is vast. To make things worse, this water is usually absorbed quicker into the dry soil than by the plants themselves.
Choose Water-Efficient Plants
Another practical way to conserve water in your lawn and garden is to choose drought-tolerant plants. Efficient vegetation such as these can be planted anytime—during times of drought or plenty. Some examples of water-efficient foliage include cacti, lavender, coneflower, and burning bushes. In areas where drought is common, it may be tempting to enjoy a lush green lawn. However, you may end up spending a fortune to keep traditional grass green. In these cases, consider drought-tolerant species such as buffalograss and blue grama. Some people do away with live lawns altogether and spread landscaping rocks, mulch, or artificial turf.
Use Proper Lawn Care Techniques
You can conserve a surprising amount of water simply by caring for your lawn properly. This tip is particularly for those who have grassy yards.
When mowing your lawn, be careful to mow to the correct height. Many of us don’t stop to consider this guideline, but it is a valid and important one to think about. The proper height grass should be mowed to varies depending on grass type and the region in which you live.
A basic rule of thumb that typically applies for all grass species is this: if you mow higher, deeper roots can grow. If you mow lower, deeper roots don’t have the same chance to develop. And since deeper roots can reach deeper into the soil for water, they will require less watering.
Another factor to consider when caring for your lawn is leaving the clippings where they are after mowing. Many of us prefer the tidy look of a short, clipping-free lawn, but these preferences can cost us and our yard. By leaving your grass clippings, they pass on nutrients to the grass below as they decompose. Besides, the clippings won’t be visible for long. They typically begin to blend in with your grass in a few days.
Install an Irrigation System
As mentioned briefly above, installing an irrigation system can do a number in keeping your lawn and garden healthy while conserving a surprising amount of water. To further enhance your conservation efforts, these systems can be outfitted with features such as irrigation pump foot valves, automatic rain-shutoff devices, and smart controllers.
If you already use an irrigation system, you can further enhance its efficiency by upgrading old sprinkler heads, rotors, or emitters to new components. This is an especially helpful tip for those with components that are older than a few years. Technology has grown tremendously and can vastly benefit your water (and financial) conservation efforts.
Spreading a thick layer of mulch can work wonders in keeping your garden’s roots cool and moisture levels high. The variety of sizes, colors, and textures that mulch comes in also makes this product great for improving the beauty of your yard. It is worth noting that different mulches work better in different conditions, so be sure to do your research before investing.
Watch the Way You Water
The way in which you water your lawn and garden makes a big impact on water and cost savings. In addition to watering in the heat of the day, two of the most common mistakes people make when watering their yard include:
- Watering the leaves. When you water your plants, it’s easy to make a quick pass over the leaves (or spend a significant amount of time watering the leaves). This can lead to the appearance of fungal diseases and sunscald. Additionally, most of the water you pour on leaves tends to evaporate before it hits the soil. Avoid these factors by watering the soil itself to ensure the thirsty roots get a deep drink.
- Overwatering. This mistake is an easy one to make. While watering our lawns and gardens, we must be careful to provide enough, but not too much, water. Overwatering not only lays a burden on our water bill, but it can stress root systems, contribute to rot, and cause fungal or bacterial diseases.
By taking the steps to provide just enough water, you can conserve earth’s most precious resource (and reduce your water bill) and optimize your operation.