From the EPA's WaterSense Current
During dry summer months, outdoor water use increases, with more than 70 percent of water going to landscape irrigation in some areas of the country. This contributes to a phenomenon known as “peak water use season.” Water use further increases on weekends, as many people use this free time to tend lawns and landscapes, wash cars, and do laundry—all high water-using tasks.
Before you put another drop of water on your yard this summer, remember: just because your grass looks dry, doesn’t mean that watering more is the solution for a healthy landscape.
While the average American household uses about 260 gallons of water per day, during peak water use season, that amount can jump to 1 gallons per day. Some homes even use as much as 3ꯠ gallons of water on a peak day—the equivalent of leaving a garden hose running for nearly eight hours.
Here are some tips for efficient water use in the summer and year-round to ensure a healthy lawn even during drier periods.
• Step on it: Grass doesn’t always need water just because it’s hot out. Step on the lawn, and if the grass springs back, then it doesn’t need water. An inexpensive soil moisture sensor can also show the amount of moisture at the plant’s roots and discourage overwatering.
• Time it right: It’s best to water lawns and landscapes in the early morning and late evening, because significant amounts of water can be lost due to evaporation at other times of day. Check with your local utility to find out what times are best for your region.
• Tune-up your system: Inspect irrigation systems and check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Fix sprinkler heads that are broken or spraying on the street or driveway.
• Play zone defense: Assign areas of your landscape different zones depending on sun/shade exposure, soil and plant types, and type of sprinklers. Adjust your irrigation system or watering schedule based on those zones.
• Give your hose a break: Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off. And don’t forget to check for leaks at your spigot connection and tighten as necessary.
• Leave it long: Raise your lawn mower blade. Longer grass promotes deeper root growth, resulting in a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation, and fewer weeds.
Although summer months are perhaps the time when homeowners think about water and their landscapes the most, a successful, well maintained landscape takes a year-round approach to water use. Adjust watering schedules and habits according to the season. Automatic irrigation systems should also be scheduled according to zones to account for the type of sprinkler, shade or sun exposure, and soil and plant type. To learn more about what you can do in Hampton Roads, visit www.askHRgreen.org.