Ways to Conserve Water Outdoors

Don’t water until plants need it
Plants tend to die from over-watering rather than under-watering. For many garden plants, let your finger judge whether the plant needs water. Stick your finger near the base of the plant and if it is dry than the plant needs to be watered. A withering plant is another sign that it needs to be watered. Only use as much water as necessary.

Prioritize watering needs
Most lawns, excluding Kentucky Bluegrass, will become dormant if not watered. Watering is not necessary and the grass will recover when rainfall returns. Lawns need approximately 2 inches of rainfall. Let your lawn “go gold” and save the money, water and effort.

Keep off the grass
Avoid walking on grass and mowing lawns (do not remove more than 1/3 of the blade of grass) in periods of drought. These activities create more stress for the grass and will need more water. Leaving mulch clippings will also help the soil keep its moisture.

Help the neediest plants first
Concentrate watering efforts on new plantings, vegetables and tender annuals. Native plants and most perennials can normally wait for the next rainfall to arrive.

Cover your swimming pool
Covering your pool will help reduce evaporation. An average-sized pool can lose about 3785 liters if not covered. Pool covers cut water losses by 90% while keeping it much cleaner.
Use a broom to clean driveways and sidewalks
Sweeping paved areas will clean them without wasting water and washing organic matter and fertilizers into storm drains.

Don’t let water run while washing your car

Get the car wet, and then turn off the water while you wash the car with a bucket of soapy water. The water left in the bucket can be used to water flower beds or garden areas. Try to wash your car on the lawn so none of the water is wasted. During drought season consider not washing your car but if it is necessary, consider using recycled water.

Don’t use sprinkler for entertainment
Running through the water or hose is a fun way to keep cool, but it is at the expense of hundreds of liters water in a short amount of time. Also running on the grass will compact the soils and lead to a decline in lawn health.

Water when temperatures are mild and winds are calm to avoid evaporation. Avoid windy days as it will cause the water to evaporate quickly and carry the water where it is not needed. In the Water Shortage Response Plan, it is encouraged in Stage One to water in the morning and cool days, but in Stage Two it is mandatory.

Check for leaking faucets and pipes in houses. Even the smallest leak can cause thousands of liters of wasted water over a short period of time.

Don’t water pavement
Position sprinklers so that water is aimed directly at lawn and garden areas rather than sidewalks, paths, and driveways. Consider using organic mulches adjacent to sidewalks and curbs to reduce run off.

Large drops, less waste
Use sprinklers that emit large droplets rather than fine mist as it reduces losses through evaporation. The large droplets will help the root system better withstand heat and drought.

Use watering cans, whenever possible
For a few patio plants, watering from a container is more efficient than watering with a hose.

Capture and recycle rainwater
Place rain barrels or buckets beneath your down spouts. 1,000 sq. ft. of roof surface will collect 1590 liters of water in every inch of rainfall.

Native Plantings
Consider growing drought tolerant plants or practice xeriscaping. Native plants are well-adapted to thrive in our area. These types of plants can survive with less than an inch of water a week once established.

Keep weeds out of flower and vegetable gardens
Weeds are notorious for stealing water from other prized plants. Remove weeds by hand whenever possible to avoid the water loss to undesirable plants.