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Think Conservation is Tough? 100 Simple Ways to Save Water Outdoors

bath on the lawn

1. To improve water conservation install a rain sensor, it turns off your irrigation when it rains.

2. Use a weather-based controller. The use of smart controllers can reduce water usage 24% a year on average.

3. Learn about available rebate programs by checking with local or state water agencies.  Rebates  help offset irrigation investments.

4. It’s important to partner with the right expertise (contractor/water manager), and smart technology to achieve conservation and plant health goals.

5. Sustainable savings goals are an imperative to the success of any water management solution. Don’t proceed without them!

6. Building managers can save water at properties by analyzing water usage trends and developing a water management plan to ensure irrigation systems operate efficiently.

7. Use reclaimed water when possible.

8. Managers should explore installing flowering perennial plants to provide a sustainable and cost-effective replacement for seasonal color changes.

9. Buildings can implement a rotation schedule for water features so fewer operate at one time reducing energy costs.

10. Retrofit the landscape with sustainable, water-efficient landscapes and native, drought-tolerant plant materials.

11. Optimize the placement and health of trees around your buildings to increase shade and reduce energy costs.

12. Maintain the landscape in a natural fashion by using pruning techniques that highlight the individuality of each plant.

13. When possible use rotary nozzles.

14. Install pressure regulation devices.

15. Practicing hydrozoning or grouping plants with similar water requirements on the same irrigation valve to reduce over-watering.

16. Installing flow meters can help you save thousands of gallons of water each year.

17. Set your sprinklers to water just before dawn is ideal because it reduces losses to wind or evaporation.

18. Adjust sprinklers to avoid waste and ensure uniform distribution.

19. Test the spray patterns of sprinkler systems; check for clogs and a mixed nozzle sizes of sprinkler heads; be sure to repair leaks.

20. Use drip irrigation for ornamental shrubs to reduce water usage.

21. Set lawn mower blades higher to increase ground shade and water retention in the soil.

22. Mulch around shrubs and planters to reduce evaporation and cut down on weeds.

23. Use a broom, rather than a hose, to clean driveways or sidewalks.

24. Use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.

25. Retrofitting the landscape with sustainable, water-efficient landscapes and native, drought-tolerant plant materials to reduce the use of natural resources and decrease the amount of maintenance required.

26. Evaluate your turf. Are there any areas that would benefit from a turf conversion?

27. Review your water bills regularly. This is a great way to discover leaks in your system.

28. If you have run off issues with slopes reduce your run times to allow for the water to soak into the soil and increase the number of start times.

29. Every month check your irrigation valves for leaks.

30. Don’t water your lawn on windy days. Too much of the water is blown away.

31. Know where the master water shut off valve is located. This way you can quickly turn off a system if a large leak occurs.

32. Encourage your school district to promote water conservation at your schools.

33. When installing turf remember to pick a turf mix or blend that matches your site conditions and weather.

34. Talk to your local water agency about drought tolerant plants. They often have information as well as pictures of plants for your specific area.

35. Share these water savings tips with your co-workers.

36. Save the ice from your to go cups at restaurants and throw the water on your plants.

37. When you drop ice in the house when you are filling a glass don’t throw the ice cube in the sink. Instead place it in one of your house plants.

38. When giving your pets fresh water don’t just throw the old water away. Instead pour it on some of your plants.

39. Consider aerating your lawn once a year to help prevent water run off.

40. Give your dog a bath on the lawn or other area where the extra water will go to good use watering plants, trees or shrubs.

41. Be sure to water your plants only when necessary. More plants die from over watering than under watering.

42. Plant a tree in your yard for shade.

43. Watch the weather and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

44. Use a rain gauge to see how much rain actually fell in your specific area and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

45. Consider using rain barrels.

46. Adding a 2 inch layer of groundcover mulch to planter beds is a good way to conserve water.

47. Good news, age matters. Mature plants and trees with deep root systems can be watered much less frequently.

48. Many times it’s better to water dry spots in your yard instead of the entire lawn.

49. Shower with a bucket and used the water you collect to water your house plants.

50. Learn the water requirements of your plants.

51. Landscapes are most overwatered in the fall when your timer is still set for summer. Get out there and make those adjustments today.

52. If you don’t have a cycle and soak feature in your irrigation controller spend a little extra time programming multiple short cycles to avoid runoff.

53. Inspect what you expect. Take time to document your water use by recording the numbers on your water meter on a weekly basis. It just takes a small pad of paper and a pencil. As a bonus your neighbors will be wondering what you doing. If one of them is bold enough to ask you will be able to spread the water saving news to them too.

54. Winter is coming soon! Be sure to use a cover for your pool. It will save you water and energy.

55. You can purchase great retrofit kits to convert your sprays to drip line. This is very effective in shrub and color beds. It’s not very expensive to do and is a job for the do-it-yourselfer.

56. Did you know soil amendments can improve landscape water efficiency? They can help stimulate deep root growth and over time reduce the amount of water needed.

57. The weather is about to change. Are you adjusting your water accordingly? Pay attention to the changes and adjust your watering accordingly.

58. If you are not sure how much to water do a search on the web and see how many sites are available for ET information. Many will make watering recommendations specific to your location.

59. Please support community water reclamation projects.

60. Install a filter in your irrigation system. Many times watering efficiency is reduced due to clogs from small grains of sand or scale. A filter will help reduce this problem and keep the efficiency of your system higher.

61. Keep your mower blades sharp: a dull blade makes the turf more disease prone, which will cause you to apply too much water. Sharpening your blades 4 -6 times a year is the norm. When was the last time you sharpened your blade?

62. Cut no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow. Mowing too low restricts root growth. We want good root growth so the turf can get to water deeper in the soil.

63. Look for spots in your landscape that are greener or seem to be extra wet all the time. Small leaks below the soil are a huge water waster. These are easy to spot and most of the time easy to fix. You just can’t be afraid of little digging.

64. Turn down the flow control on your valve if you observe misting. Most people think of the valve as just an on-off switch. If you have misting when you irrigation is running you can turn the valve down and visually observe the reduction in misting. Adjust the valve and see when the irrigation is operating most efficiently.

65. Consider the wind when you water. If you are experiencing moderate to heavy winds see if you can wait a day to water. This way you will be sure most of the water hits your landscape where you want it to.

66. Shade is very cool in your garden. Cooler temperatures mean less evaporation of water from the soil and less water use in the garden. Be sure you have plenty of shade for your landscape.

67. Avoid heavy pruning. Pruning stimulates growth and your plants require more water. Think about pruning your plants during the winter or before the season gets warm and dry.

68. Can you take advantage of a downspout in your garden? I see many gardens that have downspouts draining to areas other than a landscaped area. This could be an excellent source of direct water for a portion of you garden.

69. Have your soil tested. Your local Ag extension office can do this for you. They will also make a few recommendations on how you can improve it. A healthy soil will allow water to penetrate to the root zone easily.

70. Good soil has organic matter that helps hold water in the soil.

71. Go ahead and buy the one gallon plant instead of the five gallon. Go small and still be a big winner on both cost of the plant (it will catch up to the five gallon pretty fast) and water.

72. Keep in mind using low water plants on the south side or west sides of buildings is one of the best ways to save water by design.

73. Please don’t leave your garden hose unattended. A deep watering is good, but sometimes we tend to forget we are watering when we walk away from the hose.

74. Monitor your water bill. I know some parts of the country are allowing consumers to see their water use online daily. If you can do this great. You will be able to spot leaks faster. If you can’t see your use daily, please check monthly and know big jumps in water use most often are due to breaks or leaks.

75. Commit to doing one water savings idea a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but over time we will all benefit from the savings.

76. Use a soil probe to understand how well your system is watering. This is an easy way to quickly see how much water your landscape needs and if you are watering too much. The health of your root zone and your soil structure.

77. When you mow, leave the clippings. Your turf is full of water and can also help you reduce fertilizer needs by 25 – 50%.

78. You can tell when your turf needs water by just walking on it. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.

79. When you build your patio or walkway be sure to use porous material. This way the rain will soak into the ground instead of running off, or draining away from your property.

80. Have you considered you might have microclimates in your own yard? Believe it or not you don’t have to own an estate to have a microclimate. Plants in shade all day are in their own microclimate, as well as plants on the north side of buildings or in the shade of sheds. Be sure to examine your property for microclimates and adjust accordingly.

81. Get ready to plant. The best time to plant a new landscape bed is late fall or early spring. The soil is usually easier to work with now, and more importantly your plants will have time to put down roots before the heat of summer.

82. Water your new plants thoroughly a couple days before you plant them. This way their roots will be moist and the plants won’t get so stressed.

83. Inspect the root balls before you plant them. If the roots are overgrown don’t be afraid to prune back the twisted ones so they get a good start. This way your roots will have the best chance to penetrate deep into the soil saving water in the future.

84. Rainwater harvesting is beginning to catch on. Manual watering that includes a hose bib at the bottom of the rain barrel is a common small system solution.

85. Larger rainwater harvesting systems can use a storage tank or cistern connected to gravity fed drip system which can distribute water to a large amount of plants. These typically turn on and off manually.

86. The larger rainwater systems are designed with automatic timers and pumps. These can distribute water to large areas, but almost all the time need a professional designer and installer.

87. Greywater can be used at the time of collection, or stored and used at a later date when water is sparser.

88. Greywater systems are more affordable during new construction. If you are building now or planning to build soon take a look at how you can incorporate greywater into you irrigation plan.

89. Establish a water budget, or hire someone to do this for you. This creates a standard for water use to measure against. It also helps you plan your irrigation schedule.

90. When hiring someone to manage your landscape inquire about their knowledge of water management and requests examples of jobs where they have demonstrated creating efficiencies.

91. Installing wind sensors will interrupt watering during significant wind when most of the water will be literally blown away.

92. Consider prevailing winds when designing your system. Irrigation spacing needs to be more conservative when facing prevailing winds.

93. Check with you local water agency to see if you can irrigate with an alternate source of water. Reclaimed water is becoming more and more available.

94. Take time to educate yourself about smart water practices. Classes are offered at community colleges and local water agencies. The world of water is fascinating and these classes are eye opening.

95. Best irrigation management practices can be found at your local water agency or cooperative extension office. These are designed with your local environment in mind.

96. Visit the Irrigation Association Web site for information related to the most widely known irrigation best management practices.

97. Consider using non-potable water in water falls, fountains, and ponds.

98. In many areas legislation is mandating water conservation. Check with you local water agencies to learn what the legislation means. Write your lawmaker and see where they stand on water. Water is going to be one of the key legislative points in the next few years.

99. Remember water rates are going to increase on average 10% a year across the United States. The changes you make today will create significant savings over the next five years.

100. The Final Way –Influence, encourage and motivate others to save water. We need to lead the change and we can do this together. Call this a water revolution or call it out of the box thinking. I like to think of it as our professional responsibility to the industry to lead the change. It’s about wanting to do what is right for the future. I hope you will accept the challenge and spread the word to all the other water users.

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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. Currently he serves on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. As a board member, Richard serves in a variety of capacities, including government/public affairs. He is the liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services. Richard is also a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.

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COMMENTS (13)

  1. Tuesday, 4:47 mulchrm

    RT @ValleyCrest: Think Conservation is Tough? 100 Simple Ways to Save Water {content} http://t.co/IcAToSuw #watermanagement

  2. Tuesday, 8:52 cbregreen

    RT @ValleyCrest: Think Conservation is Tough? 100 Simple Ways to Save Water {content} http://t.co/IcAToSuw #watermanagement

  3. Tuesday, 9:57 LandscpeArchStu

    RT @ValleyCrest: Think Conservation is Tough? 100 Simple Ways to Save Water {content} http://t.co/IcAToSuw #watermanagement

  4. Tuesday, 10:59 PPMOrlando

    RT @ValleyCrest: Think Conservation is Tough? 100 Simple Ways to Save Water {content} http://t.co/IcAToSuw #watermanagement

  5. Tuesday, 12:00 LiteracyandTech

    Question: What effect does the ice cube have on the house plant in idea #37? or do you want me to try that tip and get back to you with the condition of my plant?
    I love how this list includes ideas that landscape peons can put into practice! But I didn’t see the idea of putting the plants and the dog in the shower with you!!
    I’m glad the CAPTCHA code is working on IE today.

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