Let’s make conservation a grass roots effort.
Some people say we’re obsessed with our lawns in North Texas. That may or may not be true, but watering our lawns does account for half or more of all the water we use at home. And according to the experts, most lawns get twice as much water as they really need. Over watering is a habit that wastes millions of gallons of water each year. Just look around your neighborhood and you’ll see all the signs: water gushing down the curb; sprinkler heads that resemble geysers; sprinklers going full blast during a downpour. Now that’s a waste we really can’t afford. So let’s all make an effort to give our lawns as much water as they need – and no more.
Tips for saving water on the lawn:
- Give the sprinkler a rest sometimes. In Texas, we tend to water our lawns much too often for much too long. Leave your lawn alone once in a while and it will do fine—maybe even better.
- 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. So it’s much cooler to water when it’s cooler.
- Inch toward conservation. Apply no more than an inch of water to your lawn per week during the summer. That will encourage deeper root systems and make for healthier grass.
- Remember to cut back on your irrigation frequency in the fall and winter. Lawns don’t need as much water during the cooler seasons. Applying about an inch every two weeks in the fall, and even less in the winter, should be plenty.
- Cycle and soak to avoid runoff. It takes a while for water to soak into our North Texas clay soils. Rather than running your spray heads for long periods of time, try running zones in shorter bursts, with one hour between cycles. That’ll give the water time to soak in instead of running off.
- Be sensitive – use rain and freeze sensors. They will trigger automatic sprinkler systems to shut off during downpours or when temperatures dip near freezing. And they could reduce your outdoor water use by 5 to 10 percent.
- Turn your system off after a good rain. Why duplicate what Mother Nature just provided for free? Even better—turn your sprinkler system off and water only as needed.
- Install a “smart” controller: that’s an irrigation clock that automatically adjusts run times in response to weather conditions.
- Check your irrigation system regularly. Fix leaks or damaged sprinkler heads and make sure they’re aimed at the landscape, not the street or sidewalk.
- Don’t be a scalper. Taller grass holds moisture better and slows down evaporation. Leaving lawn clippings on your lawn does the same and also returns valuable nutrients to the soil.
Tips for saving water around the yard:
- Water by the drop using drip irrigation for flowerbeds, ground cover, vegetable gardens and container plants. A drip system saves water by allowing you to target water at or near plant root zones. If you already have spray heads in place, you can use adapters to convert from spray to drip.
- Replace that thirsty turf. Replacing little-used areas of your lawn with other types of landscaping and water-stingy plants will lower your outdoor watering needs.
- Add some mulch to the mix. A three-to-four inch layer of mulch, like bark or wood chips, in flower beds or around trees and shrubs will help retain moisture and limit weed growth.
- Grow native. Native and adapted plants thrive on less water, can take the Texas heat and are easier to maintain. Find more information at www.txsmartscape.com.
- Take your car to a car wash that uses a water recycling system. If you do wash your car at home use a bucket of water and a hose with a nozzle on it, to stop the flow between rinsing.
- Break out the broom. Hosing down your driveway and sidewalk uses about five gallons of water a minute. Sweeping is much less wasteful, and who can’t use the exercise?
- Cool Trick: Use your water meter to check for leaks. Turn off all fixtures and note the meter reading. Keep the water off for a couple of hours, then check to see if the meter reading has changed. If it has, you have a leak. Common sources of leaks are toilets, dripping faucets and sprinkler systems.