Simple Tips to Avoid Wasting
Water on Lawn and
the Houston area, the heat just seems to last longer each year. With summer
showers few and far between, there has been alarmingly little rain to give the
ground a really good soaking. By Labor Day, many homeowners had given up trying
to revive wilting plants so grass, plants and shrubs look peaked and stressed –
or even worse, have actually died.
According to the Texas
Water Development Board (TWDB), as much as half of our outdoor use
of water in the warmer months is wasted because of poor watering
practices. This can take quite a toll on the water bill since 50 to
80 percent of our water consumption during those months is used
outside. It makes good common sense to learn to use this valuable
resource more efficiency to save both water and money.
is a good time to take a realistic look at the way you use water for
lawn and garden. When do you water the lawn? For how long at a time?
Does the sprinkler hit the driveway, sidewalks or street? If you
have a sprinkler system, is it set to turn off if it rains? Do you
wait for the plants or grass to look wilted before watering, or do
you water on a regular basis? When you set the sprinkler out, do you
just place it at random? Or do you have a “plan” for distributing
the water over a specific area?
We have taken our water resources for granted for
so long that some wasteful habits die hard. But with the Harris
Galveston Coastal Subsidence District mandate to reduce our
dependency on groundwater, everyone is paying more attention to
using water more efficiently in an effort to control costs, as well.
Here are some simple tips to help you put a realistic,
cost-effective water efficiency plan into effect outside your home.
At the top of the list is the recommendation to
use native plants and shrubs whenever possible in landscaping your
yard. They generally require watering less frequently, and are often
low-maintenance, too. The TWBD and the Texas Department of
Agriculture County Extension Service point out that different
varieties of grasses, plants and soils require different amounts of
water. In Houston, for example, Buffalo grass has a low water needs
compared to Bermuda (moderate) and St. Augustine’s high “thirst”
requirement. Experts suggest that grass should be watered separately
and landscaped areas. When original landscape planning is an option,
be sure to “zone” plants according to their water requirements.
Use the kind of watering equipment that best
suits your “target.” Use sprinklers – ones that broadcast large
drops are best – for the lawn areas, and soaker hoses or drip
irrigation systems for trees, shrubs and flower beds.
Lawns generally absorb the greatest amount of
outdoor residential water use, and studies have shown that folks may
inadvertently water twice as much as necessary to keep a healthy
lawn. This is easily remedied by knowing when to water. Look for
signs of stress – limp or curled, dull green blades of grass, or
footprints left behind after walking across the lawn – or use a
moisture gauge. In the Houston area, experts recommend watering
every five days to apply .75 to 1 inch of water
any rainfall) during summer months. This amount will wet the soil to
a depth of 4-6 inches. Water during early morning or evening hours
when evaporation losses will be less than during the heat of the
day. Avoid watering in high winds that might send the droplets to
places they are not needed – like your neighbor’s lawn or driveway.
If you want to know how much water it takes to
deliver the right amount of moisture to your grass, place some empty
cans or jars in strategic places around the lawn, turn on the
sprinkler and let it run for half an hour. Add the total inches of
water captured in all the receptacles and then divide by the number
of cans to get the average. Simply multiply by two if you want to
know how much water is “sprinkled” in an hour.
It will also help if you don’t cut the grass too
short. Longer blades will help reduce evaporation and shade the
soil. Maintaining this slightly deeper carpet of grass will help
prevent the lawn from turning yellow or brownish, as well.
a good mulch layer in flower beds and landscape areas. This covers
the soil, helps to hold down the weed growth that can siphon off
water from your plants, and helps retain the moisture in the soil.
Remember that “zoning” plants according to their water requirements
in the landscape plan can also help you water more efficiently.
Finally, use drip or trickle irrigation – the
slow, frequent application of very small amounts of water to the
soil area directly surrounding the plant roots – to take care of
gardens and landscaped areas. Drip irrigation can save up to 60
percent of water delivered by other systems. This can be done quite
well and cost-effectively by the strategic placement of soaker hoses
– porous tubes that continuously “leak” water.
By using our water supplies efficiently, we can
hold down our water bills, which can minimize the long-term impact
on our pocketbooks as this valuable resource becomes more costly in
the years ahead.