Saving Water Outdoors
There are lots of ways to save water, but reducing the water you use outdoors can make the biggest difference of all. By making a few easy changes to the way we use water outside our homes — like watering lawns only when needed, adjusting sprinklers to avoid watering sidewalks and using a broom instead of a hose — you can save a significant amount of water every day.
- Reduce your watering days to once or twice per week. Water your lawn only when it needs it. Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Don’t automatically increase water usage when a hot spell hits. Lawns and gardens that have had regular, deep soaks can weather short periods of extreme heat.
- Use timers to avoid over watering your yard and garden
- Mulch plants generously to retain moisture in the root zone.
- Consider soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system for your vegetable garden, shrubs and flower beds.
- Aerate your lawn in the spring or fall, top dress with compost and apply a healthy compost tea. This promotes deep root growth, improves water infiltration rates and water holding capacity of soils, and improves overall soil health.
- Plant native or water-wise species (see Frequently asked questions, below, for plant suggestions).
- Look for sprinkler, hose or faucet leaks and fix them
- Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Save: 15-12 gallons/each time you water.
- Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds.
- Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Suggestions and resources to do so can be found at:
- Water-Wise Plants for Your Landscape: Water Wise Gardening in the Bay Area
- Demonstration Gardens You Can Visit
- Bay-Friendly Landscape Guidelines
StopWaste.org – Bay-Friendly Publications
- Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios. Save: 8-18 gallons/minute
- Wash cars/boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle. Save: 8-18 gallons/minute
- Teach children that the hose and sprinkler are not toys.
- Install a pool/spa cover to reduce evaporation and filter backwash.
- Test pool and spa water frequently and maintain appropriate chemical balances to avoid the need to drain it except for structural repairs. Check your pool and spa plumbing for leaks.
Capture and Use Rainwater
It’s possible to save significant amounts of rainwater for later use. Below are links to help you get started:
- Rainwater Harvesting Manual PDF
- Rainwater Harvesting Guide
Bioretention Stormwater Treatment System
- This Old House Video
How to Install Rainwater Collection
You can get them thinking about saving water by going to water saving games for kids: Kids Can Help Save Water