The How-Tos of Backyard Water Conservation
Landscaping to Reduce Water Usage

Conserving water isn’t limited to just inside your home. Changing how and when we use water outdoors can bring some cost-effective savings to your water bill. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Many of the most effective things you can do to reduce your water bills and protect your community’s water supply are simple and easy. Let’s look at a few ways that you can save water in your backyard.


Landscaping Tips
Many backyards serve as retreats and places to relax. It’s where we have our stay-cations and hang out with family. So, we want them to look good, which typically means watering, especially during those dry summer months. About one-third of residential water use goes toward watering the lawn and garden.

Use these water saving tips to reduce your outdoor landscaping water footprint.

  • Water in the morning. This allows plants to absorb water more efficiently and will prevent water loss due to evaporation during the midday heat of the day. You should avoid watering when it is windy for the same reason.
  • Add mulch. Along the same lines, add mulch around your landscape areas to keep the soil healthy and prevent water loss through evaporation.
  • Use native plants. Native flowers, grasses and bushes have adapted to regional rainfall rates and require no water. Better still, they have defenses against predators, and they cultivate healthy soil and insect life, which attract birds and other wildlife.
  • Use the right irrigation system. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it is a WaterSense model that it is properly set up and maintained. Also consider installing a rain sensor on the irrigation controller if it does not have one built in.
  • Adjust sprinklers. Ensure sprinklers are not spraying water on paved surfaces such as the sidewalk or driveway and use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn off sprinklers.
  • Turn off your hose. If you use a hose, make sure it has a shut-off nozzle and do not leave hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out five gallons per minute.
  • Install a rain barrel. The water collected can easily be used for non-edible plantings to save water.
  • Reuse water. Use water from dehumidifiers or condensate from air conditions to water indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless the water is recycled.
  • Don’t over fertilize. Fertilizer applications increase the need for water. Get a soil test to determine the type and how much fertilizer your lawn may need. Apply fertilizers that contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
  • Don’t over water. Wilting can also be a sign of too much watering. Generally, your lawn only needs about one inch of water per week. You can use a rain gauge to determine how much water your yard gets each week from rain and irrigation.

Other Ways to Reduce Water
Even without a sprawling backyard, there are other ways to reduce your water footprint outside. Check out these examples.
  • Wash your car at the carwash. Professional car washes are required to recycle their water, thus saving up to 100 gallons over washing your car at home. If you must wash your car at home, use a bucket of water and don’t leave the hose running. Use the hose only for rinsing.
  • If you have a pool, keep it covered. Swimming pools can lose an inch or more of water each week to evaporation. A pool cover can also save energy and reduce the need for chemicals. You can also consider a water-saving pool filter.
  • Sweep outdoor surfaces. Start with a broom instead of, or at least before, using a hose. Brushing with a broom to first loosen the dirt and grime will decrease your water use and save you time in the long run.
If you are already doing many of these things, don’t forget to inspire and educate your family, friends and neighbors!