Efficient water use is especially important during the hot summer months when as much as 50 percent of home water use is for watering lawns and gardens.
You don't have to have a brown lawn to be water-wise. In fact, a beautiful water-wise landscape can add to the value of your home while you save more and more. For more information, check out your local library or conservation district for books and videos on water-wise gardening, or call your local county extension agent.
Seven Basic Principles
Water-smart planning starts with grouping plants according to water, sun and soil requirements and ends with reduced maintenance through the use of simple and continuous edges. Keeping a clean separation between turf and plantings will allow for easier adjustment of irrigation patterns. It will also minimize the time spent mowing and will reduce the potential for damage to plantings that have grown too close to the lawn.
Sensible Lawn Areas
If lawn is installed, consider using a drought-, disease- or wear tolerant variety. Place it where it can be watered and maintained efficiently. Avoid placing lawns on slopes or in areas that are unused or are hard to maintain.
Use native and/or adapted plants that will enhance the site and minimize long-term water consumption while keeping weeds and pests to a minimum.
Group plants into high, moderate and low water-using zones. High-tech watering systems make watering easier, but not necessarily more efficient. If you install an automatic system, be sure to adjust for seasonal changes and consider using a rain or soil sensing shut-off switch.
Adding renewable forms of organic matter enhances the water-holding capacity and improves soil texture.
Use of Mulches
Use of organic (living and otherwise) and/or inert mulches reduces water evaporation, erosion and weed growth, while enhancing site aesthetics.
All landscapes require regular maintenance. Pruning, efficient watering and pest control will keep plants healthy and your water bill lower. Weed regularly since weeds compete with your grass for water and nutrients. Fertilize only the minimum amount needed. Extra fertilizer actually increases water consumption.