Save Money with These Water Conservation Ideas for Your Landscape and Garden By: Sarah Bernheim The most effective water conservation at home begins out of doors. Each day, American households consume nearly 30 billion gallons of water. Much of that water consumption occurs outdoors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), outdoor water use accounts for around 58 percent of the water usage in an average American home. Landscaping practices like large expanses of lawn, over-watering and faulty or inefficient irrigation systems are responsible for almost all that water usage. These water-saving ideas will not only help conserve a precious natural resource but will help you save money on your water bill too. Water Conservation Planting Strategies Use these simple strategies to plan a water-efficient landscape: Plant lawns only where they have a functional purpose, such as a play area for the family. Plant native plants. As they’re already adapted to your local climate and soil, they’ll thrive in your garden with little attention. Recognize your garden’s microclimates. Plants in sunny or windy exposures require more water than those in protected or shady areas. Group plantings according to their water requirements. Keep water-thirsty plants grouped together to avoid overwatering drought-resistant plants. Use drought-tolerant native ground covers on slopes to minimize water runoff. Avoid Overwatering Your Lawn Lawns take the lion’s share of H2O in the garden and usually get more water than they require. One inch of water each week is the recommended dosage. To determine if your lawn is getting the right amount, set an empty coffee can out and run the sprinklers for 15 minutes. Calculate the time that it will take to reach an inch, and then halve the time for twice-a-week watering. Washing a Vehicle at Home A commercial car wash uses less water to keep your vehicle clean than you’re likely to do washing your car at home. Washing a vehicle at home can use up to 140 gallons of H2O. If you do wash your care at home, use a bucket and a hose with an automatic stop nozzle. The Multiple Benefits of Water-Saving Mulch A layer of organic mulch around plantings will not only aid your water conservation efforts but will provide plants with needed nutrients, will help prevent damage from diseases and pests and will discourage weed growth too. Have Your Irrigation System Checked The EPA estimates that if households performed regular maintenance on their irrigation systems, each household could save around 9,000 gallons every year. Regular checks to make sure that sprinkler heads aren’t broken, clogged or aimed in the wrong direction, and an annual check to ensure that the system is free of leaks and operating at peak efficiency will save you money on your water bill while conserving water.