Make a Splash With These 8 Outdoor Water Conservation Tips

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated March 2, 2022
A garden of cacti and succulent in the front yard of a house
Photo: FatimaGribonos / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Getting a beautiful yard doesn’t have to mean wasting water

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Water is vital to our home in many ways, but it’s easy to feel like you have to use gallons upon gallons of H20 each day. Luckily, saving water, especially outdoors, can be surprisingly easy. By making a few small changes to your lawn care routine, you can have a big impact on your water use. These water conservation tricks may even help you to save some money, making them a win-win. 

1. Reduce Your Lawn Watering

Whether it’s thanks to a particularly hot summer or making sure your tomatoes grow healthy and strong, sometimes, you can’t just forgo watering your yard entirely. When you do water your outdoor plants, here are some lawn care tips for water conservation:

  • Direct the water onto the roots for the most efficient watering.

  • Water your yard in the evening, when it’s least likely to evaporate.

  • Know your soil type and water according to how much your soil needs.

  • Hand-water or use seep hoses or an automated irrigation system to precisely water your yard.

  • Ditch the sprinklers, which are too broad to provide accurate watering.

2. Plant Native Plants 

Choosing native plants is an important way to conserve water. If you live in a dry region, choose plants that are drought-tolerant and resistant so you won't have to add supplemental irrigation to make up for dry spells.  Zoysia grass also conserves water better than other types of grass, which will help cut down on your usage.

One type of landscaping design you can use for an arid location is a xeriscape garden. Xeriscape gardens have a low-water landscape design that utilizes minimal irrigation or removes the need for it entirely. These low-maintenance gardens offer a beautiful aesthetic with cacti, succulents, aloes, rocks, and more to give your yard a vibrant appearance without water usage.

3. Collect Rainwater

A wooden barrel collecting rain water
Photo: BiancaGrueneberg / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

A rainwater collection system generally attaches to the gutter, where it collects water from your roof that would otherwise race down to your landscape or driveway. Collect rainwater in one of these large tanks and use it to irrigate outdoor plants when necessary. 

An added bonus is rainwater contains a macronutrient called nitrate, which is essential for plants to grow.

4. Choose an In-Ground Irrigation System

In-ground irrigation systems are installed in one of two ways: through a metered water system or a pump system. The pump system option is the most environmentally friendly because it pumps water from a source of water, such as a nearby lake, river, or pond, and channels that water through the sprinkler to water your yard. This system saves you money on water while conserving local treated water systems.

With an irrigation system, you can automatically have it come on with a timer so that you don’t need to remember to go out and water your plants. This feature can also save money and time because you won’t be standing outside aimlessly spraying your plants with a hose. Instead, the time is set and calculated, giving you more control over your yard’s water usage.

5. Check for Outdoor Leaks

A leak in your yard not only wastes a bunch of water—it’s also very costly. It’s a good idea to routinely inspect your yard, especially after a freeze, to ensure you don’t have a leak. 

Check for water leaks by inspecting your faucets for any dripping by turning them on for a minute and then shutting them off. Search for signs of water where it doesn’t belong, such as the wall or the base of the faucet.

You’ll also want to check the water meter by looking at the leak indicator. Shut off all water in and out of your home, make a note of the number on the water meter, and then water for about an hour. Check the meter reading again to see if the number went up. If it did, somewhere on your property has a leak.

In this case, walk the perimeters of your home to search for places that show signs of water, such as a muddy spot or soft, spongy grass. 

6. Use the Right Soil

Amending your soil could positively impact your outdoor water consumption. Poor-quality soil doesn’t allow for adequate water absorption and is more likely to lead to water run-off and drainage issues. This is more of a problem for clay or sandy soil. 

To improve your soil, add organic matter like compost or mulch to your soil to promote better water retention and lower run-off and evaporation issues.

7. Use a Greywater Irrigation System

Imagine reusing your greywater to water your plants. With a greywater system, you can. A greywater irrigation system takes your used bath, sink, shower, and washing machine water and redirects it from the sewer system to your yard instead. 

If you want a simple method for installing a greywater system, the easiest way is to focus on the washing machine. Connect a diverter valve to the washing machine drain pipe and then attach a 1-inch tube to the diverter with smaller, half-inch outlets that lead to individual areas of your garden. 

8. Maintain Your Pool

Pools are a major water waster. According to the EPA, an uncovered pool can lose as much as 30,000 gallons of water annually through evaporation. A pool cover can make a huge difference; one study from the National Plasterers Council shows that a solar pool cover can prevent up to 95% of evaporation. So, cover up those pools when not in use to save on water.

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