Water restrictions will take precedence over these listed. The water conservation tips below must be implemented within current water restriction limitations.
Water conservation techniques were obtained from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
1. When is the best time to water?
Water early in the morning or late evening, never in the heat of the day or on a windy day (when most of the water will evaporate). Inexpensive timers can also be installed on outdoor faucets to control the period of irrigation and to prevent using water unnecessarily.
2. How often and how much should we water?
- One inch per week is enough. If you leave footprints along the grass, it is time to water. Over watering can cause grass to be less hardy.
- Place a can in the area being watered to measure the amount of water your sprinkler delivers.
- Consider letting lawns go. Even fescue lawns will green up again when it rains.
- Never water grass daily; except when establishing new lawns. Then, only water during recommended times.
- Don't fertilize the yard when it's hot; it causes faster growth, which needs more water. Fertilization is not recommended during extended dry periods because fertilizers are chemical salts and can actually dehydrate the roots of plants.
Shrubs and Trees:
- Most well-established shrubs don't need as much water as lawns. Watch for signs of wilting. If they turn grey-green and wilt, then they need water.
- A few minutes with a hand-held hose for shrubs every couple of weeks should suffice.
- Surround plants with three to five inches of mulch to prevent evaporation. Fine-textured mulches, such as pine straw, pine bark mini-nuggets and shredded hardwood mulch do a better job of conserving moisture than coarse-textured mulch. Apply mulch to as large an area as possible under the plant, remembering that the roots of established woody ornamentals extend two to three times the canopy spread.
- Use a half-buried coffee can or bottom of a milk jug punched full of holes as a homemade drip irrigation system for shrubs and in the garden.
- Water trees on a weekly basis; use two gallons of water per foot of height at the tree base.
- Drip or trickle irrigation or a soaker hose are efficient ways of watering. Drip irrigation uses 50% less water than conventional sprinkler irrigation and applies water slowly and directly to the root system.
- Direct water to the roots, not the top. Avoid wetting the foliage of ornamental plants if possible. Wetting the foliage not only encourages diseases but also results in evaporative loss of water.
3. What else can I do
- Place sprinklers so you are not watering sidewalks, driveways and roads.
- Clean the driveway, patio, sidewalks and garage floor with a broom rather than a hose and water.
- If water is running off the area, you've left the sprinkler on too long.
- Place rain gauges in your yard to help determine if there has been enough rain.
- Watering with a hand-held hose to apply water only to those plants that show signs of wilting will help conserve water. Priority should be given to newly planted trees and shrubs (those planted within the past four months). Water these plants every 7 to 10 days during the absence of rainfall.
- Install backflow prevention devices for sprinkler systems. Installing suction breakers or backflow prevention devices onto spigot systems prevents water contamination problems during low water pressure events.
- Use the following recycled water for outdoor watering uses: bath water; first draw from the faucet while waiting for the water to heat and; water from aquarium changes (this water is enriched with nitrogen and phosphorus, which plants need).
- Maintain your lawn at a height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches - this reduces heat stress and evaporation.
- Keep spas and pools covered when not in use - an average size pool can loose up to 1,000 gallons of water a month from evaporation.
- Check home swimming pools for leaks and lower pool water level to minimize the amount splashed out.
- Use Xeriscape TM techniques for landscaping. This is a water conservation-friendly landscaping method. More information can be obtained from this Website.
4. What about washing the car?
- When washing cars or other vehicles at home, rinse lightly, wash from a bucket, then rinse again. Obey watering restrictions.
- Use a commercial car wash that recycles its water.