Large amounts of water applied to lawns and gardens are never absorbed by the plants and put to use.
- Some water is lost to runoff by being applied too rapidly
- Some water evaporates from exposed, unmulched soil;
- The greatest waste of water is from applying too much too often.
In addition to overwatering the plant, excess irrigation can leach nutrients deep into the soil away from plant roots, increasing the chances of polluting groundwater. Similarly, runoff caused by excess irrigation can carry polluting fertilizers and pesticides to streams and lakes. The waste or pollution of high quality water through inefficient irrigation practices can be eliminated through proper watering techniques.
Water-Saving Tips for Lawn & Garden
- Use a high-pressure, low-volume, pistol-grip hose nozzle.
- Plant hardy varieties of grass, trees, shrubs and flowers that require minimum water. Native plants are best suited to our climate.
- Remove weeds and other moisture competitors.
- Sprinkle in calm, cool weather.
- Water early in the morning to reduce evaporation losses. An occasional, ample watering is more effective than numerous, superficial waterings.
- Use trickle or drip irrigation systems for watering trees, shrubs, hilly areas or widely spaced plants.
- Before using "gray" water from tubs, basins and laundry for lawns, call your health department or district for local restrictions. This use is not allowed in many areas.
- Collect runoff from roofs and paved areas for garden use.
- Use surface mulch around trees, shrubs, flowers and garden crops to reduce evaporation loss.
- Replace some lawn with gravel, stone, bark or paving.
- Common sense and an active concern to save water reduce consumption markedly without sacrificing cleanliness or interfering with your lifestyle.
Sustainable Landscape Ideas
Aim downspouts away from foundations and pavement and onto relatively flat or slightly sunken lawn areas (swales) or landscape beds.
Install a rain garden - a small garden designed to catch and temporarily hold rain water from a roof, driveway or other open area. (NebGuides available: Rain Garden Design for Homeowners, Plant Selection for Rain Gardens in Nebraska, and Installing a Rain Garden in Your Yard).
Use natural drainage patterns, site grading and/or berms to channel rainwater away from impervious surfaces and onto planted areas.
Collect rain water in rain barrels or a cistern.
Plant and maintain dense, healthy plant cover, especially on slopes.
Avoid the use of high maintenance turfgrass on steep slopes, in deep shade, or in areas that are awkward to reach for mowing or watering such as narrow turf strips. Instead, select adapted or native turfgrass or other ground covers that require less water, ferilizer and mowing.
Plant trees and shrubs; the leaves intercept and slow rainfall and the roots hold soil to prevent erosion.
Increase the use of properly sited landscape beds to reduce large expanses of turfgrass, thus potentially reducing irrigation and pesticide inputs.
Keep hard, impervious surfaces which don't soak in water to a minimum. Where feasible, use permeable surfaces such as bricks, cobblestones, gravel, interlocking pavers, porous pavement, or mulch.
Amend soils with organic matter. Avoid or relieve soil compaction to increase infiltration of water and to promote healthy root growth.
Core aerate turfgrass to enhance water infiltration through thatch or compacted surface soil layers.
Conserve water. Don't overwater or let water run off during irrigation. Saturated soils increase the potential for water runoff during irrigation and rainfall.
During new home construction, take an active role in developing a sustainable property design before grading and construction begins.