[Editor's note: For articles on water-saving ideas and strategies for commercial properties see "Tapping High-Tech Solutions to Manage Water" and "Water-Saving Strategies to Make Every Drop Count" on GreenBiz.com.]
With summer just ahead, ET Water, the developer of smart irrigation systems and plug-and-play retrofit equipment, offers advice on how to shore up water waste when caring for landscaping.
Lawn and landscape irrigation wastes up to 1.5 billion gallons of water every day and accounts for as much as 60 percent of urban water use, according to ET Water.
The company offers these ideas for curbing consumption of water for irrigation by 20 percent to 50 percent:
1. Install Smart Irrigation Technology
This technology can cut use of water for irrigation by as much as 50 percent.
2. Put Plants In the Right Places
Many trees, shrubs, perennials need less frequent irrigation than some water-loving plants. Group plants together depending on their watering needs and plant low water users farther away from buildings or where irrigation may not be readily available.
3. Irrigate Efficiently
To reduce evaporation, operate your irrigation system during the cooler hours of the early morning rather than during the heat of the day or windy weather. Be sure that misdirected water is not running off onto drive-ways, sidewalks or streets. And water only as needed depending on time of year and average rainfall.
4. Appropriate Maintenance
Apply as little fertilizer to lawns as possible. Applying excess fertilizer increases water consumption and creates the need for more mowing. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks. Set lawn mower blades one notch higher. Longer grass means less evaporation.
5. Prepare the Soil
The texture of the soil has a direct influence on water retention, drainage and aeration. Before planting, remove existing weeds as they compete with desired plants for soil moisture, sunlight and nutrients.
6. Limit Turf Areas
Lawns require a lot of water and maintenance. In commercial and residential settings, it's best to use lawn turf only where it serves a purpose -- for recreation or entertainment, for example.
7. Select Low-Water Use Plants that are Appropriate for Your Climate
Consider using native species from your climate zone. Once established they'll need dramatically less water.
8. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
A thick layer of mulch acts as insulation for soil and significantly reduces evaporation of soil moisture. Mulch can also reduce weed growth, reducing competition for soil moisture.
9. Water Thoroughly
Deep watering is better than frequent, shallow watering because it encourages deep roots.
10. Check with Your Municipality for Watering Restrictions
Outdoor watering restrictions exist on both state and local levels; failure to comply can result with monetary fines.
Image courtesy of ET Water.