10 Tips To Reduce Outdoor Water Use

Lawn and landscape irrigation (commercial and residential) wastes up to 1.5 billion gallons of water each day and accounts for 40% to 60% of urban water use. ET Water Systems, Inc. offers outdoor water conservation tips for facility management professionals that can reduce irrigation water use by 20% to 50% while still maintaining attractive landscapes.

Based in Novato, CA, ET Water Systems makes irrigation control systems that combine horticulture science and proprietary Web-based technology to automate the scheduling of sprinkler and drip irrigation. Water is applied to landscapes based on current weather conditions and specific landscape factors, including plant type, soil type, slope, and sun/shade conditions.

Install an irrigation system that uses “smart irrigation technology.
Smart irrigation technology, including “smart controllers,” can reduce irrigation water use by 20% to 50%. These systems can automate the scheduling of sprinkler and drip irrigation, and they apply water based on current local weather conditions and specific landscape factors.

Put Plants In The Right Places
Water loving plants require frequent irrigation while many trees, shrubs, and perennials need less frequent irrigation. Group plants together depending on their watering needs, and plant low water users farther away from buildings or where irrigation may not be readily available.

Irrigate Efficiently
To reduce evaporation, operate the irrigation system during the cooler hours of the early morning rather than during the heat of the day or in windy weather. Be sure that misdirected water is not running off onto driveways, sidewalks, or streets. And water only as needed depending on time of year and average rainfall.

Appropriate Maintenance
Apply as little fertilizer to lawns as possible. Applying excess fertilizer increases water consumption and creates more mowing for maintenance staff. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. Set lawn mower blades one notch higher; longer grass means less evaporation.

Prepare The Soil
The texture of the soil has a direct influence on water retention, drainage, and aeration. Before planting, remove existing weeds; they compete with desired plants for soil moisture, sunlight, and nutrients

Limit Turf Areas
Lawns are very large consumers of water. Use lawn turf only where it serves a purpose, such as in a play or entertainment area.

Select Low Water Use Plants That Are Appropriate For The Climate
Consider using native species from the climate zone. Once established they will require dramatically less water.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
A thick layer of mulch acts as insulation for the soil and significantly reduces evaporation of soil moisture. Mulch can also reduce weed growth, reducing competition for soil moisture.

Water Thoroughly
Deep watering is better than frequent, shallow watering because it encourages deep roots.

Check With Municipality for Watering Restrictions
Outdoor watering restrictions exist on both state and local levels; failure to comply can result with monetary fines.

Another source of information is the Irrigation Assocation, based in Falls Church, VA.

(Photo courtesy of ET Water Systems, Inc.)