Saving Water Outdoors

Micro-irrigaion is a great way to precisely use water.

Check and see how much water you are actually spraying.

Leaks over time can add up to large amount of wasted water.

Water efficiently.
Over-watering is wasteful, and it can harm plants.

  • Target water to plants that show signs of moisture stress. Plants will turn a gray-green color or wilt when they need water.
  • Water the root zone of the plant instead of the foliage. This saves water and reduces diseases.
  • Water at night or in early morning to avoid losing water to evaporation.
  • Water deeply. Light, frequent watering causes shallow rooting and increases the need for water.
  • Use drip irrigation and micro-sprays when possible. They use 30 to 50 percent less water than sprinklers.
  • In-ground system users should have a regular system audit performed by a professional who will inspect for leaks and other problems and recommend new water-saving equipment. Rain sensors, soil moisture sensors, evapotranspiration controllers and new efficient rotors and spray heads are examples of new technologies.

Plant the “right” plants in the “right” places.

  • Select plants carefully. Read the plant tag; it tells you the amount of sunlight and water the plants needs as well as the recommended soil conditions.
  • Plants that require partial shade do best on eastern exposures where they are shaded from the hot afternoon sun.
  • Consider the slope and drainage patterns of the site. Plant moisture-loving plants at the base of slopes where they can take advantage of natural drainage.
  • Group plants in the landscape according to their water need: high, medium or low. This will result in more efficient irrigation.

A little organic matter goes a long way.

  • Organic matter, such as compost, improves the water- and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil, adds valuable micro-organisms that aid in nutrient uptake by plants, reduces soil erosion and filters and buffers potential pollutants.
  • Apply 3 inches of organic matter to the soil surface and incorporate it into the soil 12 inches deep. One cubic yard of material will cover 100 square feet approximately 3 inches deep. When buying organic material, one cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet which is nine, 3-cubic-f00t bags or 14, 2-cubic-foot bags.
  • Add organic matter uniformly across the planting area.


  • Mulch holds moisture in the soil.
  • Apply pine straw, shredded hardwood or bark mulch 3 inches deep: two bales of pine straw cover approximately 100 square feet; 14, 2-cubic-foot bags of mulch cover 100 square feet.
  • Apply mulch under the entire canopy of the plant.

Harvest water from alternative sources and use it to irrigate plants.

  • Collect water in rain barrels or cisterns.
  • For each inch of rainfall, six gallons of water can be harvested per square foot of roof area.
  • Air conditioner condensation and dehumidifiers are also sources of irrigation water.
6/13/2009 1:56:20 AM
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