Lawns, gardens, and other outdoor applications of water account for the largest portion of household water use—about 30 percent. This makes the outdoors a prime target for conservation.
A relatively new method of outdoor water conservation is xeriscaping, a strategy of creating a landscape that thrives on the amount of rainfall nature provides. Water-wise landscapes tend to be more resistant to diseases, easier to maintain, and more welcoming to pollinating butterflies, birds, and bees.
Here are some other outdoor water conservation methods you can use:
- Mulch around plants and trees to reduce water evaporation. Mulch materials include wood chips, straw, plastic film, and landscape fabric.
- Use plants adapted to local conditions. In arid climates, yucca, iris, thyme, and crocus fare well. Consider using native plants, which are already adapted to the local climate.
- Water in the early morning, when it’s less windy and cooler, to avoid evaporation.
- Add windbreaks and fencing to slow winds and reduce evaporation caused by moving air.
- Decrease the size of your lawn. One square foot of lawn can require an inch of water (0.6 gallons per sq. ft.) per week during the summer.
- Make sure your soil’s porosity matches your plants’ needs. Plants that are rooted in soils with high porosity will be continually thirsty, and low porosity soils can hold too much water, drowning the roots.
- Irrigate efficiently by targeting water directly to your plants and trees with drip systems or soaker hoses.
- Use a rain barrel or tank to harvest runoff from your roof, and use that “free”water for your yard.