July is Smart Irrigation Month. Though the average consumer isn’t necessarily responsible for the watering of agriculture or large-scale landscaping, that doesn’t mean we can’t use this opportunity to reflect on our own practices when it comes to conserving water outdoors. This includes thinking about how much water you are using outdoors. USEPA estimates homeowners in some areas use between 30 and 70 percent of their water outdoors in the summertime. How you are using your sprinklers? Automatic sprinkler systems can use about 50 percent more water outdoors than homes without, and whether you are using your outdoor water efficiently, it’s estimated that 50 percent of the water used outdoors goes to waste from runoff, overwatering and evaporation.
Water conservation should be top-of-mind for everyone, especially as we’re spending more time at home and finding outdoor projects like gardening, watering plants or cleaning cars. To protect our most precious resource and make every drop count this summer, consider these tips:
- Step before you water. Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean your grass needs to be watered. Step on the lawn, and if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need to be watered.
- Water during cooler temperatures. Water your plants during the cooler parts of the day (before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.) to avoid water loss due to evaporation.
- Stormy skies? Turn off the sprinklers! On cool, rainy and/or overcast days, turn off automatic sprinklers — let Mother Nature handle it.
- Windy days blow the water away. When watering, avoid times of high/strong wind — it can push the water to sidewalks and more can be lost to evaporation.
- Height matters. When you bring out the mower, avoid cutting your grass too short. Longer grass avoids “burning” your lawn and helps deeper root growth, which results in a more drought-resistant lawn.
- Your lawn isn’t a water bank. If you’re anticipating a drought, it won’t help to overwater in anticipation. The soil cannot hold water for later.
- Mulch, your secret weapon against evaporation. Mulch placed around trees, shrubs or flower beds can reduce evaporation and promote plant growth.
- Look into drought-tolerant plants. Not all plants are created equal when it comes to water consumption. Succulents, native grasses, lavender and rosemary, just to name a few, require significantly less water than other plants.
- Hose responsibly. Whether watering, washing a car or cooling kids off on a hot day, consider attaching an adjustable spray nozzle that allows you to use as little or as much water as the activity requires.
- Make your car wash count. When cleaning your car at home, park on the grass so runoff water is absorbed into the soil. Use soapy water from a bucket, instead of a constant flow. Then, use the hose for the final rinse.
American Water encourages its community to be smart consumers and practice conservation. By following these tips, you can make an impact on your water usage and the health of your lawn this summer.
You should also use a rain barrel to capture rain runoff from your roof and gutter system. The water collected in the rain barrels can then be used to water your flowers and vegetable garden.
Please pass this on: do NOT water your grass, it promotes weeds and then you need to put herbicides on it and mow it more often. Actually, grass is an environmental disaster. Just let it turn brown, with the first rain, it will green up again.