By Katherine Drury, Education and Outreach Coordinator
Outdoor watering can account for 50 to 80 percent of home water use in the spring and summer. This may be wasted through inefficient landscape watering practices and poor plant materials. By incorporating waterwise landscaping practices, you can reduce your daily water use, lower your monthly water bill, and create an outdoor oasis.
Here are some ways to help you transform your yard into a waterwise landscape.
The best time to irrigate is either in the morning or evening since less water is likely to be lost to evaporation or wind drift. Turn your irrigation system off during wet weather in the spring and summer and freezing temperatures in the winter. Also, be sure to follow any local irrigation restrictions.
Regularly check your sprinkler system to make sure all spray heads are working and are not spraying water onto driveways and sidewalks. Also, be sure that your system is not creating water runoff. An annual irrigation audit will help you fine-tune your irrigation practices and ensure that your system is in tip top shape. For more tips on how to conduct an audit, click here.
Reduce Turf Grass
During the summer, most of the water used outdoors is applied to turfgrass. Reduce the amount of water used in your landscape by replacing some of your grassy areas with flower beds filled with waterwise plants. Not only will this help cut down on the amount of water you use in your landscape, but it will create a colorful haven for pollinators.
When choosing plants for your flower beds, opt for native or drought tolerant plants. They usually require less water and maintenance. Some of our favorite waterwise perennials are Blackfoot Daisy, Gallardia, Gaura, Turks Cap, and Yarrow.
If you are installing a new lawn, choose a grass that uses minimal water. Buffalo grass only needs one-half inch of water per week and has excellent drought tolerance. Bermuda grass needs one full inch per week. Fescue is the thirstiest grass commonly planted in our area, needing one-and-a-half inches of water per week.
Few gardening practices are as easy and effective as mulching. It helps reduce the need for additional irrigation to replenish lost moisture that evaporates from the soil. Mulch also reduces annual weed populations, prevents soil compaction, and moderates soil temperatures. Be sure to maintain a three to four-inch layer of mulch year round. Compost, straw or wood chip mulches will deteriorate and add organic matter back to the soil. This can help increases your soil’s water holding capacity.
Waterwise landscaping practices are one way that homeowners and businesses can conserve our region’s groundwater resources. For more tips and plant suggestions, be sure to check out our Waterwise Landscaping Fact Sheet.