Water conservation is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound way to reduce our demand for water. Outdoor water use accounts for up to 50% of water consumed by an average household. There are many different ways to retrofit an owner’s lawn to be more water efficient, depending on their ability and preference towards outdoor residential design. Water conservation no only saves helps the surrounding watershed, but it also saves the homeowners money on water bills. Even people who have their own wells need to be conscious about their water use, because wells use ground water that eventually feeds into the streams and lakes within the watershed.
Water conservation is critical to ensure the health of the Ipswich River. Each community and individual can take action to conserve water. Homeowners have many opportunities to retrofit their lawns and gardens into water efficient landscapes. A popular approach to modern water conservation crises is low-impact development.
Tips to Conserve Water Outdoors
- Water your lawn at dawn or dusk. During the hottest parts of the day, water is more likely to evaporate and not soak into the lawn.
- Plant native flowers and shrubs in your garden and seed your lawn with drought tolerant turf grass.
- Retain moisture in your lawn and garden by using compost in new soil and mulch around your plants.
- Install rain water barrels under the roof gutter drains. Use this rain water to water your plants, instead of turning on the faucet.
- Reduce lawn size- less lawn means less watering and less mowing. Install other garden beds or trees in its place.
- Adjust your mower to a higher setting, and return grass clipping to lawn to increase the amount of organic material in the soil
- Transform part of your lawn into a meadow, which will also serve as beneficial wildlife habitat.
- For paths and patios, use gravel or porous hardscapes to allow rain water to pass through the surface into the soil.
- Water lawn less to increase plants’ tolerance to drought.
Low-impact development (LID) is a land management and planning strategy that encourages on-site water conservation. Most backyards and open spaces are suitable for LID designs- site planning and sustainable maintenance methods are key to capturing rainfall and reducing outdoor water demands. Planting design and site placement are two key aspects in making a low-impact development both functional and appealing to homeowners.
“a planning or design approach to development intended to reduce runoff by enhancing infiltration, thereby retaining or restoring natural hydrological characteristics” (USGS, Zarriello 2010).
- Limit lawn, using lawn only where it serves a necessary use, like a play space for children.
- Porous hardscapes, using porous pavers or gravel to allow rain water to infiltrate into the soil.
- Using drought tolerant plants, preferably native plants that can withstand dry conditions.
- Rain barrels catch rain water from the roof, and can then be used to water plants during droughts.
- Having a forested yard can reduce the amount of grass and plants that need regular watering.
- Replacing lawn with native meadow plants can help retain moisture; but the plants may require specialized mowing equipment and invasive plant maintenance.
- Having a naturalized lawn uses low growing drought tolerant groundcover as lawn substitutes.