1) Ditch the bluegrass turf lawn, completely or partially. Bluegrass turf uses far more water than alternative landscaping choices.
2) Set your mower on its highest setting so turf grass is not cut too short. Longer grass keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
3) Use the mulch setting on your lawn mower so grass clippings stay on the lawn, which helps slow evapotranspiration and provides nutrients to the soil.
4) Do not install bluegrass turf on slopes, especially south facing slopes, because much of the water will run off the slope and sprinklers will need to run for longer times to compensate. Instead consider planting shrubs or native plants with drip irrigation on a slope.
5) Mulch your trees, shrubs and perennials to reduce water use. Mulch slows down the evaporation of soil moisture, reduces water run-off, and reduces weeds which can steal moisture from your plants.
6) Consider replacing your existing high-water turf lawn with low-water turf options such as buffalo grass, blue grama grass or a fescue grass.
7) Plant native plants that are more appropriate for the climate you live in.
8) If you plant non-native plants, use ones that are adapted to your climate conditions, such as iceplant from South Africa, and Russian sage from Central Asia.
9) Place your plants in groups organized by water use, so as to avoid overwatering low water need plants.
10) Plant trees in your turf lawn to provide shade for the lawn and reduce evapotranspiration of the grass.
11) Follow your water provider’s summer watering rules, and any watering restrictions that may be in place at that time.
12) Don’t water during the hottest time of the day. It is best to water between 6 pm and 10 am. Watering during the hottest time of the day increases the evaporation of the water before it reaches the roots of your plants.
13) Don’t water when it is windy. Just as watering during the hottest time of day increases water loss due to increased evaporation, so does watering when it is windy.
14) When shoveling snow in winter, place snow piles where it will melt and water trees and shrubs that can benefit from extra moisture in winter.
15) Install a rain sensor to avoid having your irrigation system run when it is raining, or the day after a heavy rainfall event.
16) If you don’t have an automatic irrigation system, use a mechanical or digital timer with your sprinklers.
17) If you have an automatic irrigation system, check it once a month or more often to fix any leaks or problems that may occur.
18) Use drip irrigation to water your landscape plants. Drip irrigation is the most efficient form of irrigation because the water is not sprayed into the air which increases evaporation of the water before it reaches the plants.
19) Avoid placing sprinkler heads against fences and hardscape. Instead, install a strip of rock mulch between fences / hardscape and sprinkler heads. In addition to reducing water waste, this minimizes water damage and the need for turf edge trimming.
20) Improve your soils water holding capacity by amending the soil with organic matter.
21) Make your landscape more permeable to keep storm water on your property. Instead of a solid concrete patio, install a unit paver patio to allow water to percolate down rather than running off.
22) Divide watering times into shorter shifts to improve water absorption, and avoid runoff. This is sometimes referred to as the “cycle and soak” method.
23) Direct gutter downspouts to planted areas rather than streets or storm water areas.
24) Save rainwater from your roof for irrigating plants.
25) Save indoor “grey” water for irrigating trees and shrubs.
26) If local codes allow, hire a plumber (or DIY) to pipe your grey water to your landscaping.
27) Use a mild/natural dish soap for washing dishes to keep this grey water safer for your landscape plants.
28) Bathe your pets outside over turf areas that need water, using mild/natural soap.
29) Wash fruits and vegetables outside over your lawn to allow wash water to irrigate the turf.
30) Plant trees (adapted for your climate) to shade your turf area to reduce evapo-transpiration of the turf.
31) Consult a landscape architect or horticulturalist to learn the best plants to use in your climate and growing zone.
32) Before planting certain species of plants, do extensive soil preparations. Some plants benefit from additional organic matter, while others will perform better if drainage is improved.
33) Save fallen leaves in autumn and use as a mulch around trees, shrubs and perennials.
34) Plant new perennials, shrubs and trees in fall when temperatures are cooler because it will take less water to establish them, as compared to planting in early summer.
35) Cover water features, pools and spas when not in use to reduce evaporation.
36) Check water features, pools and spas for leaks.
37) Consider using pondless water features, where the water reservoir is hidden or obscured which provides less evaporation that a typical pond.
38) Don’t use water to clean paving. Use a broom and dust pan.
39) If you want to install a water feature, choose one that cascades or trickles rather than one that sprays in the air. Spraying fountains lose more water to evaporation.
40) If your children want to play in the sprinkler, have them do this in an area of your lawn that needs water.
41) Do not let your children waste water by spraying sprinklers on sidewalks, drive ways or the street.
42) Place large rocks near shrubs, trees or perennials to keep the soil below the rock cool and moist.
43) When refreshing your pet’s water dish, don’t discard the old water in the sink, pour it on plants outside.
44) If you have ice or water left in a take-out cup, or in re-usable glasses, pour it on your landscape plants outside.
45) Don’t discard used ice and water from a cooler in the sink, but throw them outside on your plants.
46) If you wash your car at home with a hose, use a shut-off nozzle so water is not running in between soaping and rinsing the car.
47) Wash the car in a lawn area so that you water the grass at the same time. Use a mild/natural detergent when doing this.
48) Don’t use a hose to clean out your gutters. Consider using a leaf blower or a long handled rake specifically made for the job.
49) Replace old spray nozzles on your irrigation system with newer, more efficient rotary nozzles. They reduce runoff and evaporation. Your purchase and installation of these nozzles may make you eligible for rebates from your water provider. Contact them for more details.
50) Consider hiring a landscape architect to analyze your property and re-design it to require less water and maintenance.
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