During the summer months, we use water. Lots of water. We enjoy swimming in pools, washing our cars, watering our gardens and running our sprinklers. But, did you ever stop to think that summer is a also a time when our region’s water supply is most strained and resources are limited? With limited summer rainfall, coupled with people using more water in summer than in winter months, our reservoirs operate at their lowest levels.
During summer months, we pull water from our reservoirs faster than we can keep them full – an issue of particular importance since a back-up supply of water for emergency and fire prevention use is a critical need.
It’s important that we conserve our water resources during the hot, dry summer months by using water wisely.
Consider this. About 32% of a household’s total yearly water bill goes to outdoor watering during the summer months. A large part of this may simply be the result of overwatering – something that can be controlled. With a few tips and a little effort to make small changes, you can not only save water but save money too!
Amend Your Soil
Adding compost or mulch to your soil will ensure that your soil holds the right amount of water by keeping the soil covered and cooled, thereby minimizing evaporation. Work generous amounts of soil amendments into the soil as deep as possible before planting. Your plants will love you for it!
Water –wise Tip: Avoid using inorganic mulches such as rocks and gravel as these will actually re-radiate the sun’s heat and can increase the amount of water that surrounding plants will need.
Water-wise Savings: To maintain proper moisture and minimize evaporation, remember not to water on those windy days. You can save as much as *200 –300 gallons of water each time.
Water Thoroughly But Infrequently
This will produce a deep-rooted lawn that is more water-efficient and drought tolerant. A good rule of thumb is: “an inch a week is all you need” to maintain a healthy lawn – about the amount that would fill a tuna can.
Water-wise Tips: Did you know that over-watering causes 75% of turf problems?
Water-wise Savings: By watering your lawn only when it needs it, you can save as much as *750 –1500 gallons of water per month of water. If your lawn springs back when you step on it, there’s no need to water it. Also, by watering early in the morning or late in the evenings you can slow the evaporation process and save as much as *300 gallons of water per month!
Depending on the type of lawn, keep grass 1 to 3” long. Longer grass blades provide shade to the roots, requiring less water and mowing and allowing the root system to become deeper and more efficient in water storage
Water-Wise Tip: Set mower blades one notch higher than normal since longer grass means less evaporation. This can save as much as *500 –1500 gallons of water per month!
Turf requires more maintenance than other plants. So it is important to evaluate your lawn and see where grass is practical and functional. Since lawn is the highest water user in the landscape, keep it small and save water and money. Where foot traffic is infrequent or where slopes are steep, consider ground covers or low-water use plants. Consider planting drought resistant native trees, plants and grasses.
Water-wise Savings: Native and low water use plants look beautiful and saves water. If you plant less turf and more shrubs that are suited to our climate, you can save as much as *750 – 1500 gallons of water per month!
Sidewalks and Driveways
Remember to sweep your driveway and walkway of debris and not rinse with a garden hose. After all, it’s good exercise and it can save you as much as *150 gallons or more of water!
Water-wise Tip: Let children play with the garden hose while watering the lawn only. This can save you as much as *600 gallons of water per hour! Remember to put “shut-off” nozzles on all your hoses.
If you have a pool, use a cover to slow evaporation. It will keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals.
Water-wise Savings: A pool cover will maintain your pools beauty and can save you as much as *11,300 gallons of water per month!
Consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses for gardens and shrubs. These systems apply water directly to the plant roots, thereby reducing waste from evaporation or run-off. Be sure to check your irrigation system periodically for leaks and broken sprinkler heads. Misaligned or broken sprinkler heads and runoff are some of the biggest causes of water waste.
Water-wise Savings: If you reduce your watering on cool, overcast or rainy days and adjust your automatic sprinklers, you can save as much as *200 –300 gallons of water each time!
Wash your car and other things such as bikes, trash cans and even the dog (!) on the lawns so the grass can get a drink. Be sure to wet it quickly and rinse it quickly, and don’t forget to use biodegradable soap.
Water-wise Tip: Use a bucket of water to wash the car and quick rinse. Don’t let the water run. This can save you up to *150 gallons of water!
Water-wise Savings: Washing a car for 20 minutes can use up to 100 gallons of water! Remember, if you use a hose, be sure it has a shut-off nozzle on it. Better yet, put them on all of your hoses.
Consider using an ET-based irrigation system. ET (short for Evapotranspiration) controllers use a weather station to determine the amount of water your landscape needs. An ET weather -based system will monitor the amount of water lost to evaporation by the sun, and the amount of water transpired by the plants. The controller then sets the watering time to deliver only the right amount of water. ET systems use 20 – 30 percent less water than standard irrigation systems.
Water-wise Tip: For more information on ET and other outdoor water conservation items, go to our web site at: www.conserveh2o.org.
Learn even more about saving water by visiting our regional water providers’ website at: www.conserveh2o.org
• These are all average-based estimates of savings and may not represent actual savings.