Train your lawn to drink less.
Many homeowners overwater their lawns, either by watering too often or by applying way more water than necessary. You can encourage deeper roots and a more drought-tolerant lawn by spacing out your irrigation days to water no more than two days a week – even less if it’s rained.
Know when to water. Keep your irrigation system off until it’s needed.
Following the weekly watering advice currently offered every Monday on SaveTarrantWater.com, will help you save thousands of gallons of water annually. The weekly advice takes weather conditions and rainfall into account to let you know whether or not you really need to water your lawn this week. The idea here is to rely on Mother Nature to satisfy your landscape’s watering needs and to use irrigation systems to supplement rainfall when necessary. Homeowners that follow the watering advice can keep their irrigation systems off an average of 25 or more weeks out of the year.
Timing is everything.
Keeping your irrigation cycles short, six to eight minutes per cycle for spray heads and 12–14 minutes for rotors, will help minimize runoff and water waste. Splitting up one long irrigation cycle into two shorter ones and allowing some time in between them (30 minutes to an hour) gives water a chance to soak into the ground. It’s an irrigation method commonly referred to as “cycle and soak.”
Turn it off when the rain is pouring it on.
Make sure your rain and freeze sensors are working properly on your sprinkler system. If you don’t have one, install one. Rain and freeze sensors will trigger an automatic sprinkler system to shut off during downpours or when temperatures dip near freezing. They are a proven way to reduce your overall outdoor water use by 5–10 percent.
Rain can be a game changer.
When we leave our irrigation systems programmed to run on a regular schedule, we often miss out on opportunities to save tons of water – which is another way of saying we often waste tons of water. Keeping track of rainfall amounts is a good way to know if you need to water or not.
See what happens at 5 a.m. – make sure your sprinklers aren’t misbehaving.
When was the last time you put some eyeballs on your irrigation system and checked to see that it’s working as it should, i.e., no mini-geysers or misdirected sprinkler heads? Many homeowners are sound asleep while their irrigation systems are running and they have no idea if there’s a problem. It’s a good practice to cycle through your irrigation zones for a short time every so often to make sure you don’t have any broken or tilted sprinkler heads, and that they’re spraying in the right direction, not into the street or on the sidewalk.
Save water in a big way by fixing small leaks. Check for and repair leaks inside and out.
Check toilet flappers, faucets, irrigation systems, and swimming pools. Fix leaking faucets and toilets. Most leaks are an easy fix, and spending a few minutes repairing them could save your family thousands of gallons of water per year.
Native plants: beautiful even when it’s dry.
Replacing water-thirsty plants with plants that are native or adapted to our region can help you reduce your water use. Native plants are drought-tolerant. They can take the Texas heat, thrive in drier conditions, need less water, and are easy to maintain. As a bonus, they add diversity to the landscape, which songbirds, butterflies, and other Texas wildlife find attractive.
Add mulch to the mix.
Mulching is one of the best things you can do in your garden and landscape beds. Placing a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch (like shredded leaves, bark, or wood chips) in flowerbeds and around trees and shrubs helps the soil retain moisture, limits weed growth, and helps moderate soil temperatures. Mulch also helps prevent soil erosion and releases nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes. And finally, mulch can help you polish up the look of your garden. Who doesn’t want that?
Note: When mulching around trees and shrubs, don’t pile it up against the trunk or stems of plants. This can lead to insect and disease issues.
Give your lawn a chance to reach for the sky.
Taller grass holds moisture better and slows down evaporation. It also encourages your lawn to grow deeper roots. There is a direct link between grass height and root depth. As a rule, the higher the grass is cut, the deeper the roots go. And lawns with deeper roots can better endure the stress that comes with summer heat. If you’re cutting your grass short, try raising your blade a notch or two. A mowing height of 3 inches is a good all-around height for most grasses.
Additional ways to save water:
- Using drip irrigation to water your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens saves water by allowing you to add water at or near plant root zones, where the plants need it.
- Don’t water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Up to 30 percent of the water sprayed on lawns during the heat of the day can be lost to evaporation. It’s much cooler to water when it’s cooler
Last but not least: Although this thought doesn’t fit in with water savings, it is something that many people don’t think about – until there’s a crisis:
Water provides value: public health protection, fire protection. It’s crucial to economic growth and ensures quality of life.
The water infrastructure assets you see (water towers, treatment plants, fire hydrants, etc.) and don’t see (underground transmission and distribution lines/pipes, sanitary sewer lines, etc.) are valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Thousands of miles of underground pipes, ranging from 1" to over 90" lines, are used every day to reliably deliver safe drinking water when you need it. And that’s pretty awesome.