In many parts of the country, politicians are arguing over water rights. In the meantime, we should all take steps to reduce our water use so we have more water to share.
- The average American home uses about 260 gallons of water per day, which totals about 95,000 gallons per year. (Source: EPA’s WaterSense article Water Use: Drop It When It’s Hot.)
- Thirty percent of the water used by a suburban single-family household goes to outdoor irrigation. (Source: EPA’s WaterSense article What You Can Do.)
- A typical suburban lawn in the U.S. uses 10,000 gallons of water — not including rainwater — each year. (Source: Amy Vickers’ The Handbook of Water Use and Conservation.)
Use Less Water in Your Yard: Check out these resources for Water Efficient Landscaping
- One deep watering once a week is better for the lawn than watering lightly several times according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Place an empty tuna can on the lawn while watering. When the can is full or if water runs off the lawn, turn the water off.
- Choose native plants and drought-resistant plants. Check with your local extension agency for a list of plants native to your area.
- Group plants that have similar water requirements together so you won’t over-water those plants that require less water.
- Install a drip irrigation system. According to the EPA’s WaterSense article What You Can Do, drip irrigation systems use 20 to 50 percent less than traditional in-ground sprinkler systems.
- Try Square Foot Gardening. According to founder Mel Bartholomew, a square foot garden uses 80 percent less water than a traditional row garden to produce the same harvest.
- Best time to water your lawn is between midnight and 6 a.m. to reduce evaporation. If you don’t have an automatic irrigation system, the next best time to water is morning, followed by evening.
- Raise the blade on your lawn mower to at least 3 inches. Taller grass promotes deeper roots and holds soil moisture better than shorter grass.
- Use rainwater and grey water for watering your lawn.
- Install rain barrels to catch rainwater; saves money and energy (decreased demand for treated tap water). Check out Brad Lancaster’s resources for harvesting rainwater.
- Consider using grey water to irrigate lawns and non-food plants. Brad Lancaster also lists resources for harvesting grey water. (Grey water is untreated water that comes from the washing machine or sink faucets. Black water comes from toilets and should not be used for irrigation.)
Some states and local governments have passed laws restricting the use of grey water. Grey Water policies are listed at Oasis Design. But, check with your local government to find out about regulations and whether you need special permits.
- Consider Xeriscape landscaping, a method of landscaping that promotes water conservation. Xeriscape is a combination of “landscape” and the Greek word “xeros,” which means “dry.” Read the seven principles of xeriscaping posted at Denver Water.