How to Keep Your Lawn Healthy While Conserving Water
April 07, 2017
Spring is here, and that means it’s time to (hopefully) put away the snow shovels and bring the lawnmowers out of hibernation as everything comes back to life. After such an unusually wet winter and with quite a lot of rain so far, this year is the perfect time to implement simple water-conservation techniques without sacrificing the lush green color you want for your lawn.
Getting the Most out of Your Sprinklers
Time it Right
Turn your sprinkler system off when it rains and wait until the grass needs to be watered to turn it on again. Installing a rain shutoff device would make this even simpler.
Avoid watering during the hottest hours of the day. Utah is a desert climate, so you’ll end up wasting both money and water by running the sprinklers at high noon. The water you use will go much farther if you keep it between late evening and early morning.
Only run the sprinklers when the grass needs water. An easy way to determine it’s time to water is by checking to see if you leave footprints when you walk on the lawn, or if the grass springs back up quickly. Watering less frequently also helps the root system grow deeper.
When you do run the sprinklers, make sure you water enough that it soaks into the soil and reaches the roots. Too little water encourages shallow root systems.
Even when you water at the best times of the day, your lawn can still lose a lot of water due to transpiration. You can minimize transpiration by keeping the length of the grass around three inches when you mow. Shade trees also decrease the transpiration rates of the surrounding grass.
Think about the species of grass you’re using for your lawn. Bluegrass is commonly used in Utah, but buffalo grass looks great, requires half the water, and will withstand the summer heat better.
Use the right type and amount of fertilizer. It doesn’t take a lot to encourage greener greens, but if you use too much, you’ll just be forcing yourself to mow and water more. Be sure to buy iron-based fertilizers, particularly on grass species that need more iron, like buffalo grass.
Consider replacing your sprinkler system with a subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) system. While this will initially cost more than above-ground sprinklers, you’ll need less water and fertilizer to keep your lawn healthy because none of it will go to waste. SDI systems are incredibly efficient, delivering water directly to the roots of the grass so it has no chance to evaporate or run into the gutter. It also ensures that fertilizer doesn’t get washed away by excess sprinkler water.
Additional Outdoor Water-Conservation Strategies
Research desert-friendly plant species that won’t need much water to use in your landscaping.
Use brooms to clean driveways and walkways instead of hosing them down.
When washing your vehicles at home, use buckets of soapy water instead of continually running the hose.