Water Less, Save Money, and Watch Your Green Grass Grow

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July 1, 2011

Water conservation is a staple of any effort to be eco-friendly, and as summer enters full swing, there’s no better place to start than the backyard. According to WaterSense, a partnership program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American household uses 120 gallons of water each day on exterior maintenance. Simple steps, like watering more efficiently, can keep your yard green while also saving money and reducing the strain on the environment.

The lawn represents an enormous opportunity for saving water. Some people even let their lawns turn brown during the hot summer months. In some cities, Portland included, a brown summer lawn has become a point of environmental pride among many people.

Unless you live in an area with water restrictions, you can likely keep your lawn green while still reducing your water usage. The first step is to make sure your sprinklers don’t waste water by spraying onto sidewalks or driveways.

Next, consider how much water the lawn actually needs. The rule of thumb is one inch per week. An easy way to measure is by setting out an empty tuna fish can while you water. The can is about an inch deep, so when it’s full, you’ve given your lawn the right amount of water.

Once you know the appropriate amount of water, you want to make sure your lawn makes efficient use of it. If you water during the hot, sunny part of the day, much of the water will evaporate before it can soak into the ground. Watering early in the morning or late in the evening, when the sun and temperature are low, will let more water soak into the soil. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, you can set it to turn on during the night.

Every lawn is different, but once you’ve found the most efficient watering system, you will enjoy a heavier wallet and a larger, more positive impact on the environment.