Plant right-Saving water doesn’t have to involve the cost and inconvenience of tearing up your yard to install a new irrigation system. It’s easy to save water and reduce your utility bills with simple changes to your landscaping and gardening routine.
- Landscape to suit your lot.Choose grass or plants that have low water requirements and will thrive in your local climate. Consider your lot’s exact features, including sun and shade, dry and damp areas, plant size, and how you plan to use each section of your yard.
- Keep soil healthy.Aerating your lawn and around trees at least once a year helps improve water penetration. When planting, turn and cultivate the soil and add compost or fertilizer to improve moisture retention and grow healthier plants that need less water to stay strong.
- Mulch well around plants, bushes and trees.Using 2 to 4 inches of mulch reduces evaporation, moderates spikes and lows in soil temperatures, improves water penetration and helps control weeds that compete for water.
- “Hydro-zone” your yard.Grouping plants with similar moisture needs in the same area makes it easier to make sure they get the water they need without overwatering. Separate plants from grassy areas, which have different water requirements.
- Plant in spring or fall.Avoid summer, when hotter temperatures mean plants need more water to become established.
- Save grass for functional areas.Plant grass in play zones and other areas where it will be used and enjoyed. Instead of planting turf on sleep slopes or other hard-to-water spaces, consider ground cover, perimeter plants or mulch.
- Plant shade trees.The shade they cast creates natural “air-conditioning,” lowering air and soil temperatures, and reducing soil moisture loss.
- Maintain your yard regularly.A well-maintained yard requires less water, so weed, prune and mow as needed.
Invest in an irrigation system -Using an automated irrigation system is one of the best ways to keep your lawn and landscape beautiful and healthy, while minimizing water waste. Plan carefully for a reliable, flexible irrigation system that can grow and evolve along with your landscaping.
- Use components that provide flexibility.Different plants have different watering needs, and these needs may change over time. Your system should allow you to apply the right amount of water for each type of plant by the most effective method.
- Install excess capacity.Irrigation zones are areas that are watered by the same irrigation valve and plumbing. Installing extra connections now makes it easier and less expensive to expand your irrigation system later.
- Think smart.Include “smart” controls that automatically adjust watering based on rain, soil moisture, evaporation and plant water use.
- Check water pressure.Low or high pressure can seriously affect sprinkler performance; choose sprinklers based on the water pressure on your site.
- Buy the best.Use the best components you can afford to minimize future maintenance and total lifetime cost of your system.
- Meet code requirements.Include the right backflow prevention device for your area. Required by the National Plumbing Code for all irrigation systems, backflow prevention devices prevent irrigation system water from contaminating the water supply.
- Dig deep.Install lines deep enough to protect them from damage from aeration and other lawn maintenance.
- Look for savings.Many water utilities offer rebates for certain water-efficient products. Before finalizing your new system, consult with your local water provider.
- Hire carefully.Even the best irrigation system won’t perform well if installed incorrectly. When looking to hire a designer or contractor, always get multiple bids, check references and confirm all vendors are insured.
- Get in the zone.Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
- Consider soil type.Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
- Don’t send water down the drain.Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
- Water only when needed.Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
- Water at the best time.Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
- Water more often for shorter periods.For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
- Adapt watering to the season.Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.
Maintain and upgrade your system : Irrigation systems need regular maintenance to keep them working efficiently year after year. Damage from lawn equipment or improper winterization can cause leaks and other serious problems.
- Inspect your system monthly.Check for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads, and other problems. Clean clogged screens and micro-irrigation filters as needed.
- Adjust sprinkler heads.Remove or correct obstructions that prevent sprinklers from distributing water evenly. Adjust sprinkler head positions and spray patterns to avoid watering sidewalks or structures and to provide necessary clearance over growing plants.
- Check the pressure.Pressure can change over time and negatively affect system efficiency.
- Inspect the system for leaks.Leaks are a huge water waster. A good contractor can perform regular maintenance checks for leaks, broken or clogged spray heads, and other problems. Ask them to show you common problems to watch for between visits.
- Install a rain shutoff switch.These inexpensive sensors can be retrofitted to almost any system and help compensate for natural rainfall by turning off your system in rainy weather.
- Consider “smart” technology.Climate or soil moisture sensor-based controllers evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and then automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of your landscape.
- Consider low volume, micro-irrigation for gardens, trees and shrubs.Drip (or trickle) irrigation, micro spray jets, micro-sprinklers and bubbler irrigation all apply a very small amount of water, slowly and precisely, minimizing evaporation, runoff and overspray.
- Have your system audited.Hire a professional to conduct an irrigation audit and uniformity test to verify areas are being watered evenly and appropriately, and make necessary adjustments.
- Look for savings.Many water utilities offer rebates for certain water-efficient products. Before upgrading your new system, consult with your local water provider.
- Winterize in colder climates.An irrigation contractor with specialized equipment will flush out water that could freeze and crack pipes, valves and sprinklers.
- Work with an irrigation professional –Even the best irrigation design won’t perform well if installed incorrectly or using inferior components. Make sure your system will operate at peak efficiency for years to come by working with an irrigation expert who:
- Has specialized understanding of irrigation principles, technology and techniques.
- Understands local environmental conditions and can help you choose low water plants and grass that will flourish in your climate and lot.
- Will ensure your system complies with local building codes for licensing, backflow prevention, installation and more.
Looking for ways to conserve water? Check out other articles on water efficiency and see how else you can maximize the need for water with minimal efforts.
Water Conservation Tips
Water Conservation – be water smart, not water short
Indoor water conservation
Water conservation tips
Water saving tips from the experts
Energy Impacts & Adaptation
How hot water use can affect your home’s energy
Energy Sources and Water
Since July is Water Conservation Month, we thought you would like to know a few ways to conserve water:
- Don't let the water run when washing and rinsing dishes by hand.. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
- Some refrigerators, air conditioners and ice-makers are cooled with wasted flows of water. Consider upgrading with air-cooled appliances for significant water savings.
- Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation
- Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
- Use a layer of organic material on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water
- Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colors.
- If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don't throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
- Throw trimmings and peelings from fruits and vegetables into your yard compost to prevent using the garbage disposa
For a list of more tips on how to conserve water..visit the website here: http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php
- Toilets, Taps, Showers, Laundry, and Dishes
- 1994 was the year that federally mandated low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets started to appear on the scene in significant numbers.
- On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your footprint is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets.
- If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
- Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
- It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, so showers are generally the more water-efficient way to bathe.
- All of those flushes can add up to nearly 20 gallons a day down the toilet. If you still have a standard toilet, which uses close to 3.5 gallons a flush, you can save by retrofitting or filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick.
- Most front-loading machines are energy- and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load.
- Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
- Dishwashing is a relatively small part of your water footprint—less than 2% of indoor use—but there are always ways to conserve. Using a machine is actually more water efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads.
- Energy Star dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per load, and even standard machines use only about 6 gallons. Hand washing generally uses about 20 gallons of water each time.
- Yards and Pools
- Nearly 60% of a person's household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance.
- Climate counts—where you live plays a role in how much water you use, especially when it comes to tending to a yard.
- The average pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill, and if you don't cover it, hundreds of gallons of water per month can be lost due to evaporation
- The water it takes to produce the average American diet alone—approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day—is more than the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods.
- That quarter pounder is worth more than 30 average American showers. One of the easiest ways to slim your water footprint is to eat less meat and dairy. Another way is to choose grass-fed, rather than grain-fed, since it can take a lot of water to grow corn and other feed crops.
- A serving of poultry costs about 90 gallons of water to produce. There are also water costs embedded in the transportation of food (gasoline costs water to make). So, consider how far your food has to travel, and buy local to cut your water footprint.
- Pork costs water to produce, and traditional pork production—to make your sausage, bacon, and chops—has also been the cause of some water pollution, as pig waste runs into local water sources.
- On average, a vegan, a person who doesn't eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.
- A cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make, with most of that H2O used to grow the coffee beans.
Electricity, Fuel Economy, and Airline Travel
- The water footprint of your per-day electricity use is based on state averages. If you use alternative energies such as wind and solar, your footprint could be less. (The use of biofuels, however, if they are heavily irrigated, could be another story.) You would also get points, or a footprint reduction, for using energy-star appliances and taking other energy-efficiency measures.
- Washing a car uses about 150 gallons of water, so by washing less frequently you can cut back your water use.
- A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, car pool to work, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use.
- Flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about 700 miles round-trip, could cost you more than 9,000 gallons of water, or enough for almost 2,000 average dishwasher loads.
- A cross-country airplane trip (about 6,000 miles) could be worth more than 1,700 standard toilet flushes.
- Traveling from Chicago to Istanbul is just about 10,000 miles round trip, costing enough water to run electricity in the average American home for one person for more than five years.
- Industry—Apparel, Home Furnishings, Electronics, and Paper
- According to recent reports, nearly 5% of all U.S. water withdrawals are used to fuel industry and the production of many of the material goods we stock up on weekly, monthly, and yearly.
- It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton, and the average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. Do you really need that additional T-shirt?
- One of the best ways to conserve water is to buy recycled goods, and to recycle your stuff when you’re done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need.
- The water required to create your laptop could wash nearly 70 loads of laundry in a standard machine.
- Recycling a pound of paper, less than the weight of your average newspaper, saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar worth of paper.