1. Don’t drown
The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often — much of the water is never absorbed. Instead of watering for one long session, water a few times for shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will allow water to soak in, while minimizing runoff.
2. Watch the clock
Water when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool – early mornings and evenings are best. Mid-day watering tends to be less efficient because of water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions during the day.
3. Divide by zones
Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard and landscape areas into separate irrigation zones so that grass can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Both sprinkler and drip irrigation can be incorporated to achieve more efficient use of water.
4. Water only things that grow
If you have an underground sprinkler system, make sure the sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water instead of a fine mist to minimize evaporation and wind drift.
5. Consider dripping
When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers, or other nongrassy areas, consider applying water directly to the roots using low volume drip irrigation. This will reduce water waste through evaporation or runoff, and will prevent unwanted weeds from growing.
6. Do routine inspections
Periodically check your sprinklers and hoses to make sure everything is working properly. A clogged head or a torn line can wreak havoc on your landscape.
7. Be rain smart
Adjust your irrigation system as the seasons and weather change. Or better yet, install a shut-off device that automatically detects rain or moisture. These devices are inexpensive and enable you to take advantage of the rain while conserving the water.
8. Set your mower to the right height.
Grass shouldn’t be cut lower than ¾ of an inch. Too short of grass can cause an insufficient root system to develop. A deep root system helps to find water and nutrients in the soil and properly mowed grass can withstand heat and drought.
9. Have a tight seal.
Use plumbers tape to seal the connection from the faucet to hose and sprinkler to minimize the chance of wasted water.
10. Let the lawn go dormant.
Another watering alternative during prolonged drought is to let the lawn go dormant and turn brown. Lawns are amazingly resilient and can tolerate dry conditions for up to 2 months if left alone. Grass will bounce back when rainfall and cooler temperatures return in the fall, especially if it was well fed in the spring.