How can I save water in my yard and garden?

Garden conservationIt’s always been wise to conserve water in your home and garden. But in California today, conservation is more than just a good idea—it’s essential. We need to stretch our water supplies to insure that there is enough water to serve everyone who needs it.

One of the best places to make significant reductions in water use is in your garden. People who live in urban areas use about half of their water outdoors. In the summer, garden water use climbs even higher as the weather gets hotter and drier.

Fortunately, you can save water in your garden without sacrificing the quality of your landscaping. By taking advantage of efficient irrigation techniques and using ornamental plants and ground covers that are suitable to long, dry summers, you can enjoy a beautiful landscape that requires significantly less water and maintenance than a less carefully designed one.

Planting Hints

  • Whenever possible, plant only low-water and drought-resistant plants. By using native plants—plants that are used to our climate—you may be able to reduce your outdoor water use significantly.
  • Limit the amount of area devoted to your lawn. Lawns need great quantities of water, particularly in the summer.
  • Wait until fall or winter to install a new garden. New plantings require more water than established growth.
  • Consider planting low-water or drought-resistant plants.
  • Keep low-water plants away from “thirsty” plants. Mediterranean-zone plants can suffer if they are over watered as you care for their neighbors.
  • Place thirsty plants at the bottom of slopes, where they will benefit from water runoff.
  • Keep shade plants in the shade. This will help prevent them from drying out.
  • Include mulch around shrubs and plants to help reduce evaporation, limit weed growth, moderate soil temperature, and prevent erosion.
  • Replace mulch around shrubs and plants at least once per year and remove weeds as needed.

Managing Your Lawn

  • Limit the amount of area devoted to your lawn. Lawns need great quantities of water, particularly in the summer.
  • A good way to check if your lawn needs watering is to just step on the grass. If it springs right back up, you don’t need to turn on the sprinklers. When it’s time to water, do it at dawn or dusk to reduce evaporation.

Watering Tips

  • Mature trees require less water than newly planted ones.
  • Check your sprinkler system regularly. A sprinkler system can waste water if sprinkler heads are broken, automatic timers are not adjusted for rain, or hidden leaks are not detected.
  • Switch to a drip irrigation system for your yard.

More Outdoor Savings

  • A garden hose can use 10 gallons of water per minute. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, walkways, and driveways. When you do need the hose, use a nozzle to increase pressure and decrease water usage.
  • Have a dirty car? Use a bucket of water instead of a hose to wash your car. Even better, take your car to a car wash that recycles its water.

Check the Rebates page for conservation rebates and programs that can help you maximize your outdoor water savings.