Water Conservation Makes Sense - and Earns You Cents!
Water conservation is the most effective way to make the best use of our existing water resources – and with the City’s conservation-oriented water rates, it’s also a great way to save money on a household’s water bill. Water conservation is especially important during the summer months, particularly during drought, when more of our drinking water supplies are used for outdoor activities. The average household’s water use more than doubles – even triples – due to outdoor watering of lawns and landscapes in the summertime.
Think W.O.W. -- Wise Outdoor Watering
Since outdoor activities such as lawn watering use much more water than inside uses, they also present the greatest opportunities for reducing a household’s water use. It is estimated that from 40 to 70 percent of the water delivered to households is used for lawn and landscape watering during the summer months. As temperatures rise, consider how much water your household or business may be using to water lawns or landscapes, and consider these simple ways to save water:
- Plant native trees and shrubs. Native species are hardier and more resistant to drought, and are better adapted to surviving under normal rainfall conditions. Save time and money by landscaping with native plants that require fewer lawn chemicals and less water. For more information, visit www.marc.org/water or www.grownative.org.
- Condition the soil. Improving the soil composition of a lawn through improved mowing, composting, and mulching techniques will loosen the soil and increase its ability to hold water; it will also help to insulate plants and prevent evaporation. A healthier lawn will require less watering and less maintenance.
- Mulch shrub borders and flowerbeds, and around the base of trees. A good mulch conserves moisture, keeps weeds under control, and maintains a cool soil – all of which help save water in the gardens.
- Avoid watering during the heat of the day. When it’s hot outside, it’s best to water during the evening hours (between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.) because less water will be lost to evaporation.
- Limit lawn fertilizer application rates. This helps avoid excessive water requirements and keeps mowing to a minimum.
- Don’t waste water. Too much water is not only wasteful but also harmful to the turf. The best way to determine whether a lawn needs water is to step on the grass. If you leave a footprint, the grass needs to be watered.
- Allow your grass clippings to decompose on your lawn. Grass clippings are about 90% water, so they shrink and decompose readily and are a great source of nutrients to the lawn. Letting the grass clippings fall will return almost 25% of the fertilizer to the soil in the form of organic matter. Plus, during the hot summer months, the clippings will help shade the lawn and keep the soil cool. K-State Research & Extension has published a fact sheet on “Recycling Grass Clippings.”
- Select warm-season grasses. Bermuda, zoysia, and buffalo grasses will require less water than cool-season grasses.
- Don’t water the pavement. Routinely check the sprinkler systems for any misdirected, tilted, low or broken heads. Be sure to fix any problems as soon as they are detect to avoid wasting water on sidewalks and streets.
- Program the irrigation controller. If there is a lawn irrigation system, the key to watering efficiently is to use a controller that can handle diverse landscape and weather situations, and then program it properly. For more tips on how to save with an irrigation system, visit www.h2ouse.org.