Facts and Tips to Reduce Outdoor Water Use
Summer’s rising temperatures often coincide with rising outdoor water use, primarily due to an increase in lawn and landscape watering. In most areas, the amount of water homeowners use to keep their lawns green or gardens lush spikes in the summer—two to four times as much water than they use the rest of the year! And those with timed outdoor watering systems often forget to monitor the weather or set their irrigation controllers back in the fall, leading to more overwatering during the cooler months.
You can help homeowners use less water and promote healthy landscapes by sharing facts about overwatering and tips for reducing outdoor water use. Use the facts and tips in websites, signs, advertising, articles, and more this summer and throughout the year.
Facts About Summertime Overwatering
- Depending on the region, homeowners use between 30 and 60 percent of their water outdoors.
- Experts estimate that 50 percent of the water we use outdoors goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering.
- The average American family uses about 320 gallons of water per day. During the hotter months, homes can use about 1,000 gallons of water a day. Some use as much as 3,000 gallons per day, or the equivalent of leaving a garden hose running for nearly eight hours!
Simple Tips for Saving Water Outdoors
Homes with automatic irrigation systems can use about 50 percent more water outdoors than those without them. Check your summertime water bill—how does your warmer weather water use compare to winter months? Here are some tips for keeping water use under control:
- Timing is everything: Know how much water your landscape actually needs before you set your sprinkler. Your local utility can offer recommendations for how much water certain plants need in your region and best times to water. Generally, it’s best to water lawns and landscapes in the early morning and late evening because significant amounts of water can be lost due to evaporation during the heat of the day.
- Look for the label: If your system uses a clock timer, consider upgrading to a WaterSense labeled controller. WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers act like a thermostat for your lawn, using local weather data to determine when and how much to water, reducing waste and improving plant health. Learn more at www.epa.gov/watersense/products/controltech.html.
- Go with a pro. Contractors certified through a WaterSense labeled program can audit, install, or maintain home irrigation systems to ensure water isn’t wasted. Make sure you ask for credentials.
- Tune up your system: Inspect irrigation systems and check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Fix sprinkler heads that are broken or spraying on the sidewalk, street, or driveway.
- Play zone defense: When planting, assign areas of your landscape different hydrozones depending on sun/shade exposure, soil and plant types, and type of sprinklers, then adjust your irrigation system or watering schedule based on those zones’ specific needs. This helps you avoid overwatering some areas or underwatering others.
Even if your home doesn’t have an irrigation system, there are a number of simple steps you can take to promote a healthier lawn and garden with less water this summer:
- Step on it: Grass doesn’t always need water just because it’s hot out. Step on the lawn, and if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water. An inexpensive soil moisture sensor can also show the amount of moisture at the plant’s roots and discourage overwatering.
- Leave it long: Raise your lawn mower blade. Longer grass promotes deeper root growth, resulting in a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation, and fewer weeds.
- Give your hose a break: Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off. And don’t forget to check for leaks at your spigot connection and tighten as necessary.