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Landscaping Tips to Conserve Water: Avoid Overwatering Your Lawn

Updated on October 3, 2012

Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of a households water usage during the summer months. It's true. Finding ways to use less water, not only helps conserve this precious resource, it also helps lower your monthly water bill. Here are some useful tips for saving water this summer:

Irrigate Your Lawn Efficiently

One of the greatest wastes of water comes from applying too much water too often. Much of the water applied to lawns is never absorbed by the plant. Water that isn't absorbed because it is applied too rapidly is lost as run-off. Some water also evaporates when it's applied to bare soil without mulch, or during the hot afternoon hours.

Sprinkler systems are an efficient method of irrigation when used properly. It is important to make sure the sprinkler heads are adjusted to avoid contact with sidewalks and driveways. Adequate sprinkler systems apply water in large drops rather than fine mist. Misted water has the chance of being evaporated or blown away from the area.

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are also efficient ways of irrigating vegetable gardens, ornamental and fruit trees, shrubs, vines, and plants in containers. Drip irrigation applies water slowly, through emitters, bubblers, or spray heads located beneath each plant. Water applied by drip irrigation is not likely to evaporate or run-off.

Soaker hoses are less expensive than drip irrigation and require less parts. A soaker hose is a porous hose that can be connected to an outside faucet or to the garden hose. The soaker hose allows water to seep out along its length slowly.

Avoid Overwatering Grass

Watering too heavily or too frequently weakens your lawn, causing erosion. Most lawns receive twice as much water as they need to maintain a healthy appearance. Water should be applied infrequently, yet thoroughly. To determine when your yard needs watering, look at the condition of the grass. At the first sign of wilting, you have 24-48 hours before damage to the lawn occurs. Wilting and discoloration are simply signs of distress that let you know when to water without wasting.

As a general rule, water one inch once a week. How can you tell if you've watered an inch? Place an empty 6-oz tuna can on your lawn and stop watering when its full. Watering infrequently, but thoroughly, also helps strengthen the root systems.

Water in the Morning

Watering in the morning will save water from being evaporated by the heat of the midday sun. Watering in the morning is also better for the plant's health since watering late in the evening keeps plants moist overnight. Diseases and pests thrive in wet conditions when water sits on plants overnight.

Recycle Grass Clippings

By allowing grass clippings to decompose into soil, you will not only save water but also make your turf greener and tougher. The key to recycling your grass is to mow at the proper height and evenly distribute the clippings around the yard so they can work their way into the soil. Remember that cutting grass to short causes stress, weak root systems, and results in rapid loss of moisture in the soil.

When lawn clippings remain in the yard, they act as a slow release fertilizer, while helping maintain the moisture in the soil. This reduces the need for watering and can eliminate any need for fertilizer.

Harvest Rainwater for Your Lawn

Setting a large bucket or barrel at the end of a rain gutter to catch run-off from the rain is a great way to save water. Using rainwater is healthier for plants than treated water and also reduces run-off pollution.


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