According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly a third of the water Americans use at home - more than 7 billion gallons a day - is poured onto our lawns. It is possible to have a beautiful lawn and your dependence on surface and groundwater sources nearly in half.
Choosing The Right Ground Cover
Saving water begins with choosing the right ground cover and plants to make the most of the water you use. Choose plants that are native to your region. Use turf grasses only when necessary, and find varieties that are suited for your climate. In as much of your yard as possible, plant native warm-season grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs. These will not require any supplemental watering once they are established. Check with your local native plant society to see which plants work best in your area. The Native Plant Conservation Campaign website has links to many societies around the country,
Save Water While You Irrigate
If you have an irrigation system, make sure that it is watering your plants and not the sidewalk, the street or your house. Some municipalities will send out n inspector to look at your sprinklers to make sure you are not wasting water and to suggest ways you might make changes for more efficiency. The Rainbird irrigation company suggests you check the following features:
- Use pressure-regulating devices
- Install valve devises to prevent drainage from the lowest sprinkler head
- Use nozzles that distribute the water evenly
- For areas planted with flowers, trees or shrubs, use drip systems
- Install a sensor that will shut the system off if it is raining
- Make sure you water only in the cool hours early in the morning or late in the evening
Use a rain barrel or cistern to collect rainwater to use to water your plants. Saving the water that falls from the sky for times when rain is scarce will cut down your need to turn on the hose or sprinkler.
Don't mow your grassy areas to lower than about three inches. If you do, you risk burning the grass, which will require more water to help the leaves recover. A University of Florida study shows that different varieties of grass can tolerate different heights, so check with your local nursery to see what is best for your particular lawn. And make sure you don't cut too often as this can burn the grass as well.
WIth a little effort and at a reasonable cost, you can have a beautiful yard that uses less water and, in the long run, will be less work for you.