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Outdoor Water Conservation

What can I do to conserve water outdoors?

Outdoor water usage can be twice that of indoor water usage. Much of that water usage is unnecessary. Here are some simple ways for you to take care of your lawn and garden while still conserving water.

For your lawn

  • Mow your lawn so that it is between 2 and 3 inches long. This will provide natural ground shade and help promote water retention by the soil.
  • Mow often so that you cut no more than a third of the height of the grass at a time. This will prevent excessive shock that can cause grass to turn yellow.
  • Keep your mower blades sharp and only mow when the grass is dry. This will give you a cleaner cut. Grass that is shredded by dull blades uses more water.
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn. They contain high amounts of nitrogen, a key ingredient in fertilizer, and they help retain moisture.
  • Cut back on fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can damage the soil and attract pests. Use organic or slow-release fertilizers, which are less likely to wash off your lawn.
  • During dry and hot spells, your lawn may turn brown. It is not dead, but dormant, and it will revive itself when wetter weather returns.
  • If you are reseeding your lawn, use a blend of grass seeds to make your lawn more tolerant of pests and resistant to disease. Also, select a grass variety that is well suited to the conditions of your property.
  • If you do not use your lawn, consider minimizing or getting rid of it completely. There are many attractive, low-water ground covers and landscaping alternatives available.

When watering your lawn

  • Observe the Acton Water District’s outdoor water restrictions.
  • Let rainfall do your watering — there are often weeks when we recieve an inch or more of rainfall. Providing lawns with more than one inch of water per week may be bad for the lawn, and is a waste of our precious water supplies.
  • Water no more than 1 inch per week. Place empty cans around your lawn where you are watering and measure the depth of water to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch.
  • Water only as rapidly as the soil can absorb it.
  • Water your lawn in the early morning to minimize evaporation and prevent the growth of fungi. Avoid watering when it is windy.
  • Gradually extend the length of time between waterings. This will cause the grass to require less water and be more drought resistant, as well as conserve water.
  • Avoid watering the sidewalk or driveway.
  • If you have an automatic sprinkler system, shut it off after any substantial rainfall

In the garden

  • Get rid of weeds, which can compete with your plants for water.
  • Use mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and discourage weeds.
  • Start vegetable plants from seed, if possible. They will usually develop stronger and deeper root systems this way.
  • Use native plants, which generally require less care and water.

Other ways to conserve water

  • Cover pools and spas when not in use. In one week, an inch or more of water can evaporate from uncovered pools.
  • Sweep down decks, driveways and sidewalks instead of hosing them off.
  • When washing your car, shut off the hose between rinses.