Conservation Tips

Tip for the month of March:

Aerate turf.  Be sure the ground isn’t frozen or too dry to ensure deep full cores.  Leave cores on the ground to break down naturally.


Jan. Prune deciduous trees and shrubs. Treat trees with horticultural oils for pest control as needed.
Feb. Sharpen mower blades.  Prune raspberry bushes.  Cut back ornamental grasses to a few inches above the ground.
Mar. Aerate turf.  Be sure the ground isn’t frozen or too dry to ensure deep full cores.  Leave cores on the ground to break down naturally.
Apr. Fertilize turf areas with slow release fertilizer.  Water only as needed. 
May Begin mowing turf, ideally maintaining a height of 3”.   Mowing too short makes turf more susceptible to insect and disease problems.  It’s a great time to add a drip irrigation zone.
Jun. Fertilize turf areas with slow release fertilizer. Spray roses and prune lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, & azaleas after blooming.
July Water according to the weather and apply a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain moisture and save water.  Stake tomatoes if needed.
Aug. Take a soil sample to the U of I Extension office to determine garden or lawn nutrient needs.  Keep on top of weeds.
Sept. De-thatch the lawns and fertilize.  De-thatching is recommended for fall to allow turf to recover over winter months and prepare for new spring growth. Fertilize turf areas with slow release fertilizer.  Optimal time to add xeriscape to your yard.
Oct. Blow out sprinklers / Disconnect Hoses. Only water lawns if outside temperature is above 40 degrees.
Nov. Fertilize your lawn with slow release fertilizer.  Yard clean up – rake fallen leaves.
Dec. Spread shoveled snow onto your lawn rather than paved areas.

Why Conserve Water?  

Water is essential to life on earth.  We need water.  Water is being used faster than it can be replenished.  Saving water is good for the earth, your family, and your community.

Listed below are some useful tips.

Hydro-gels. Hydro (water) gels are polymer granules that work similar to a sponge.  As the soil in your indoor plants or potted outside plants dries, the stored water is gradually released to the soil.  The gels are safe to use on all plants and will reduce plant watering by 50% and last several seasons.  Ask about them on your next trip to your local garden center.

Raise the blade. Mow your lawn at a higher than normal height.  Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture evaporation.

Learn About General Lawn Care.  Avoid applying an excess of nitrogen as warm weather approaches. Limit traffic over the lawn, improve turf rooting, control thatch and soil compaction, and avoid pesticide use on drought stressed lawns.

Get a bucket. When washing the car, use a bucket, sponge and a sprayer on the end of the hose.  Don’t let the water run while washing the car.

Be a Drip.  Use drip irrigation for your vegetable gardens, flowers, trees, and scrubs.  Drip irrigation is an easy do-it-yourself project for hose or sprinkler system watering.

Best water saving device: The Broom. Use a broom to clean the driveway, sidewalk or house instead of your hose.  Hosing down your driveway for 5 minutes uses about 85 gallons of water.

Don’t water the Wind. Turn off your sprinklers in windy or rainy weather.  Water in the early morning for best results.

Got Leaks? Check your sprinkler system weekly to ensure that sprinkler heads, filters and screens are functioning normally. Regularly watch the spray pattern on set systems because often they become misaligned.

Avoid Wasteful Runoff. Even with sprinklers correctly targeted at the lawn, many people water until (or even after) water begins to run off grass and into the street. Remember, most of the year, lawns only need 1″ of water every five to seven days.

Don’t Water when it’s HOT.  On a hot day water evaporation can be as much as 20% to 25%.  Water droplets clinging to grass can actually cause the sun to “burn” individual blades.

Mulch Like Crazy!  Mulch materials may include wood chips, bark, leaves, and evergreen needles.  Use mulch to help retain moisture so there is less need to water.  Mulch helps control weeds that compete with your desired plants for water.

Water things that grow.  Over spray on streets, driveways, fences, is wasteful.  Think about replacing turf with drought tolerant plants or other landscaping materials.  You can decorate those areas with things that don’t require water, such as: rocks, bricks, or benches.