Sustainable Landscaping
healthy lawn care
rain gardens



NBC News Channel 10 with Audrey Laganas

Water Conservation and Reducing Landscape Water Needs

Filmed at the Davisville Demonstration Site, this segment aired August 27, 2003 and focused on reducing landscape water needs and proper lawn watering.

For more information view our healthy landscapes fact sheet, water wisely.

As fall quickly approaches, this can be an ideal time to consider landscape renovations and plantings. Proper planning can reduce your future landscape watering needs, saving you both time and money.

Lawns are a big consumer of water. Consider this:
Lawns need about 1” of water per week to remain actively growing during summer months. 1 inch of water over 1,000 sq. feet (50’ by 20’) is about 625 gallons of water. This represents about:

12 loads of laundry or
25 showers or
10,000 8 oz. glasses of water
(enough to give about half the North Kingstown residents a glass of water)

5,000 square feet of lawn (an area 50 by 100 feet) requires 3000 gallons of water per week to remain actively growing. This is 2 – 3 times more water used on the lawn than is used indoors for one week. Some homes actually have a much larger lawn area, 15,000 square feet or more, requiring 7 – 10 times more water than from all indoor water use.

One of our demo sites consists of a 15,000 sq. ft. lawn. Due to proper watering and the abundant rainfall this year, the owner reduced his summer water bill by 75% compared to last year, saving about $300.

Lawn watering tips:

Measure weekly rainfall with a rain gauge
Apply only enough to make up 1 inch per week
Know how much water your sprinklers are applying--use shallow cans to measure the water being applied
Know how to turn automatic sprinkler systems off, only use them when needed
Do not irrigate frequently, it encourages shallow roots and disease--water once a week for a longer period of time.
Early morning watering is best to reduce evaporation
Do not water sidewalks and driveways

Other water saving tips:
If your lawn requires renovation or re-seeding, consider using a drought tolerant grass seed mixture, which can withstand dry periods.

Consider reducing your lawn area and establishing garden beds, walkways, and patio areas.

Once established, gardens and beds require less water than a lawn, especially if you choose plants that are appropriately suited for your site conditions and keep the gardens properly mulched. Consider planting some native and drought-tolerant plants.

Furthermore, garden beds can be watered using soaker hoses or drip irrigation methods, which places the water at the plant root zone. This method of low pressure/low volume watering is more efficient and conserves water.

Landscaping with crushed stone, paving stones, patio blocks, wood decking, and mulch materials reduces landscape maintenance and watering while enhancing aesthetics.

Rain barrels can collect and store rainwater collect rainwater for small beds and container plants.

See examples and details at the Davisville Demonstration Site

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