Save Water - Yard
Conserve Water and Save Money with Water Conservation Tips for Your Backyard
Large volumes of water are applied to lawns and gardens each year, and much of that water is never absorbed by the intended plants and put to use. Some of the water is lost to runoff because it is applied too quickly, and some of the water evaporates from exposed soil. The greatest waste of water is applying too much water too often.
In addition to overwatering plants, extra irrigation can leach nutrients deep into the soil and away from plant roots. This increases the chances of polluting local groundwater. The runoff caused by excess irrigation can carry any polluting fertilizers and pesticides from your yard to nearby streams and lakes. These issues can be eliminated with proper watering techniques. This guide will provide some great tips on how to use proper watering techniques to conserve water, and how to reuse water in your own backyard.
Most of the water used on lawns and gardens never makes it to the roots of plants.
Backyard Water Conservation Tips
Most of the water used on lawns and gardens never makes it to the roots of plants. Make the most of your watering by following these water conservation tips.
- Use mulch to reduce the evaporation of water on the soil’s surface. Mulch is a layer of nonliving material covering the soil surface around plants. Mulches can be organic materials such as pine bark, compost, and woodchips, or inorganic materials, such as lava rock, limestone or permeable plastic. Mulch also reduces weed populations, prevents soil compaction, and keeps soil temperatures more moderate.
- Raise your lawn mower blade to at least three inches. Higher cut lawns encourage grass roots to grow deeper. It also shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a short, manicured lawn. For more information about mowing responsibly, visit Natural Lawn Care.
- Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings contain valuable nutrients for your soil and plants. If left on the lawn, the clippings will reduce the need for adding expensive fertilizers.
- Use soaker hoses, drip irrigation or micro-sprays for all of your plants, except for your lawn.
- For steep slopes, uneven areas or large gardens, use a pressure compensating drip emitter rather than a soaker hose.
- Plant native or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once they are established, they don’t need to be watered as often as non-native plants, and they will usually survive dry periods without any watering.
- Xeriscape. Xeriscape landscaping will save you time, money and water.
- Minimize the grass areas of your yard. Less grass means less water demand. Replace your lawn with water-wise landscaping.
- Hydrozone, or group your plants based on their water needs.
- Repair any leaky hoses or faucets. Fixing even a small leak can save a lot of water.
- Buy a rain gauge to determine how much rain or irrigation your yard has received.
- Don’t over water your lawn. Lawns only need to be watered every 5 to 7 days in the summer and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A good rain can eliminate the need for watering for as long as two weeks.
- Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Adding fertilizer increases the need for water. Rather than fertilizing, try a natural alternative such as compost. If you must apply fertilizer, use one that contains slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
- Don’t hose off your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom or rake to clean leaves and other debris.
- Use a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you must wash your own car, park it on the grass to wash it, and use soap and water from a bucket. Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle for the final rinse.
- Do not install water features such as fountains unless the water is recycled.
- If you have a swimming pool, use a water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses from l80 to 250 gallons or more of water.
How to Save Water by Properly Using Soaker Hoses, Drip Irrigation and Micro-Sprays
Soaker hoses will only conserve water if they are used for the proper length of time. In loamy soil, to water the top 6-12 inches of soil, the soaker hose should be on for about 30-40 minutes. Sandy soils generally need less time, and clay soils tend to need more time. To determine the right watering time for your plants and soil, dig into the soil about an hour after watering and check the depth of the soil moisture. Keep in mind that 1 inch of water per week is adequate for most plants. Following are some other great tips to conserve water when using soaker hoses, drip irrigation or micro-sprays.
- To prevent evaporation and help the water to flow, bury your soaker hose under 2 or more inches of mulch. You can use mulch in the form of wood chips, bark, or compost.
- Water early in the day or late at night to minimize evaporation.
- Use sprinklers that apply water slowly so that the water does not just runoff. If you get puddles when you sprinkle, turn the water off, wait until it soaks in, then turn it on again later.
- Adjust your sprinkler to avoid any mist that just blows away. Also, avoid watering when it is windy.
- Place your sprinklers so that they do not spray any part of driveways, sidewalks, mulch or weed beds.
- Do not leave your sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out over 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off, or install an automatic timer.
- Regularly check your sprinkler systems and timing devices to be sure they are operating properly. Install a rain sensor device that will override the irrigation cycle of the sprinkler system when there has been sufficient rainfall. To retrofit an existing system, contact an irrigation professional for more information.
How to Reuse Water: Rain Barrels and Greywater
You can reuse rainwater and greywater, also often spelled graywater, in your backyard to conserve water and save money. A rainwater harvesting system collects rain that falls on your house and grounds. Try reusing a spare bucket or purchase a Deluxe Rain Barrel to catch water runoff from your gutter system. This rainwater can replace purchased water when you water your lawn, wash your car or bathe the family dog.
Greywater is water that has already been used in your bath, shower, washing machine, or bathroom sink. Since it can contain bacteria, it is best suited for subsurface irrigation of non-edible landscape plants. Extra nutrients found in graywater can sometimes even be better for your plants, resulting in stronger vegetation and growth. Try the five-star rated, Create an Oasis With Greywater, for more information about building a greywater system. Simply click on the title in the right margin to purchase this title used or new from Amazon.com.