12 Ways to Conserve Water in Your Lawn

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Sep 14, 2019

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There are two very good reasons to conserve water: money and the environment.

Today’s homeowners are more aware of environmental concerns than previous generations, and often take steps to conserve water. The result is a lower water bill and a better feeling about your role in taking care of our planet.

Using less water is not as simple as it sounds. If plants, softscapes, and grass don’t receive enough moisture, they can turn brown, wilt, and die. The damage can lead to costly lawn restoration and replanting expenses.

There are three primary ways to conserve water in your lawn; using less water, reusing water, and getting the most out of the water you use.

All three methods can be put to use on your property by following our 12 ways to conserve water in your lawn. We know your lawn is the welcoming committee for your home, and you take pride in it. That’s precisely why each concept is explained how to save water while still maintaining a great looking yard.

1. Save water by using modern technology to prevent waste

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There are a number of interesting devices that can be incorporated into your lawn and irrigation systems to prevent water waste.

Rain-shut-off devices & smart irrigation systems are nifty gadgets that automatically detect the level of moisture in your soil and prevent your irrigation system from turning on when water isn’t needed.

These systems save you money and can help prevent damage from overwatering. We have apps for everything else, so maybe it’s time we had one for the yard, too.

2. Check your irrigation system for leaks regularly

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This one might fall in the “Captain Obvious” category, but it’s worth a mention. Leaks are a serious problem, and can actually occur even when your sprinklers are off.

Severed underground lines can pump small amounts of water into your soil without you even noticing. Even a trickle can add up.

A leak the size of a dime can lead to a loss of over 6,000 gallons of water per year! If you don’t currently have a professional landscaping company overseeing your irrigation system, you should inspect your lines and sprinkler heads for leaks on a regular basis.

3. Collect rainwater using a “rain barrel” or a similar device

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Sometimes it’s the simple inventions that make the biggest difference. In this case, a rain barrel is a great, easy way to collect rainwater for reuse.

Many homeowners attach flexible hoses to their gutter downspouts which connect to large, 50 gallon drums. The water can be pumped from the barrels for watering purposes. Some clever lawn and landscape companies can even integrate your rain barrel into your irrigation system!

It’s worth the effort to purchase or build a rain barrel. They save you money in the long run, and allow you to focus water on the parts of your lawn that need it most.

4. Use mulch and rocks to naturally absorb water

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Mulch and rocks are a simple way to conserve water when they are installed around ornamental plants, bushes, shrubs, and trees.

When they are installed to the correct depth, mulch and rocks (decorative stone) can prevent the sun from drying up the soil beneath your plants. Your irrigation system will require less water and the soil will soak up rainwater more efficiently. One big plus is that mulch and rocks look great if they are refreshed once a year.

5. Capture “warm-up” water for use in your lawn

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There are a few ways to get the job done. One is to capture “warm-up” water in a large jug or container.

As you warm up the bath or shower, take the time to collect the cool water that normally goes down the drain. This can be done in a 5 gallon water jug or even large buckets. The water can then be transferred to larger storage containers or even your rain barrels for reuse.

6. Reuse “Grey Water” for watering plants and grass

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The idea of using Grey Water might actually cause you to cringe a bit–but don’t worry. We’re definitely NOT talking about using sewage to water your plants.

Sewage water is considered “Black Water,” and is not safe for reuse. In this case, we are talking about water with very little bacteria and contaminants that usually comes from bathtubs and sinks. This method of water conservation depends largely upon what is allowed in your area and what code restrictions are in place for gray water–and how far you are willing to go.

Some people take things to the extreme when collecting grey water, such as removing the pipe fittings from beneath their sink and placing buckets underneath to catch water. Other homeowners have installed valves in their tubs which allow grey water to be captured and stored in outdoor containers.

This method is not practical for everyone, but may be a worthy investment for people with larger lawns.

7. Avoid planting during drought periods

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The idea of planting during a drought period might sound like a terrible idea–that’s because it is!

But you might be surprised how many lawn and landscape companies do it anyway. That’s because homeowners are always thirsty (see what I did there?) for great looking landscape displays.

As a result, the companies they hire will throw just about anything they can into landscape beds to keep things green and blooming. The trouble is, it will take much more water to ensure the plants take root, and doing so during drought periods means that the majority of the water will simply absorb into the thirsty soil, rather than the plants.

Waiting until conditions improve to plant is much smarter, and helps with water conservation.

8. Choose plants that naturally conserve water

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Certain plants don’t require as much water as others. Folks who live out west know this very well. Some plants in the cactus family can go months without needing additional water, and will continue to thrive.

You may not favor the idea of replacing all of your bushes and shrubs with cacti, but you can still take steps to choose plants that are efficient. We call these plants “drought tolerant,” and they often provide great looks with less watering requirements.

Examples of “drought tolerant” plants include agave, bougainvillea, and portulaca.

9. Mow grass to the correct height

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One way to save water is to mow your grass to the correct height. Mowing guidelines vary depending upon your region and type of grass.

Typically, a slightly “higher” mow will allow a deeper root system to develop. The deeper roots can reach down for water within the soil, the less watering is required. If you mow too short, the grass will need more water to sustain itself and will brown more easily during drought periods.

We know that no one wants to be “that guy” with the unkempt yard, but arming yourself with knowledge can help you strike the right balance between beauty and efficiency.

10. Leave grass clippings on your lawn after you mow

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Sure, grass clippings on top of your lawn may not provide the ideal look you are after, but there is a good reason for it. If your lawn is healthy to begin with, grass clippings can provide additional nutrients which will be absorbed as they decompose.

The process will lead to a slight decrease in water needs for your lawn. Don’t worry, it only takes a few days for the clippings to begin breaking down and blending in with your grass.

11. Restore soil before planting to aid with water conservation

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One extremely useful method for saving water is to restore your soil before you begin planting. Most lawn and landscape companies will complete soil testing before installing sod for this exact reason.

If your soil is thatched or compacted, it is difficult for nutrients to reach your grass, which will lead to problems down the road. Other treatments may be needed to improve soil quality, such as lime. Healthy soil works more efficiently and helps plants take root, which reduces the amount of watering they will need.

Soil restoration isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Equipment can be rented, products can be purchased, and the entire process can be tackled by channeling the inner DIY expert you always knew you were!

12. Avoid watering while the sun is at its peak

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This one is widely known and put into practice by nearly everyone in the lawn care industry. The best time to water is when the sun is low in the sky.

The dawn or dusk hours are the most ideal for water conservation. The early morning takes the number one spot for watering because things haven’t begun to heat up yet. Water will work its way into the root systems in the soil without additional evaporation to compete with.

If you don’t have a sprinkler system with a timer, get out there in your robe with a cup of coffee in one hand, and the hose in the other. We won’t judge.