Water wisely

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that half of all the water put on lawns each year is wasted. Here are some tips to help you save water and have a green lawn:

  • If you are building a new home or laying new sod, be sure there is at least 6 inches of topsoil beneath the sod.
  • Test your soil and consider adding compost as organic material. It will dramatically increase the absorption of water.
  • Follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense guidelines for landscaping:  Limit the amount of turf you plant, don’t plant grass on steep slopes, don’t install ornamental water features.

  • Don’t over-water. Most lawns need only 1 inch of water each week, either from rain or from irrigation. If you don’t have a rain gauge, set out a small tuna can. If it fills up in a week from rain, you don’t need to sprinkle.
  • Step on your grass. If it springs back, it doesn’t need watering.
  • Water early in the morning to cut losses to evaporation. The middle of the day is the worst time.
  • Microirrigation or drip systems, not sprinklers, should be used on planting beds and strips of grass that are less than 8 feet wide.
  • Cut grass no shorter than 2 inches.  It will promote deeper roots that require less water.
  • Install a weather-sensing controller or soil-moisture sensor as part of you automated sprinkling system. They will reduce over-watering.
  • Aerate your lawn, as needed.
  • If you use a hose for watering grass or shrubs, be sure it has a shut-off nozzle.
  • When hiring an irrigator, look for a certified installer. The EPA offers a state-by-state list of WaterSense Irrigation Partners at http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/irrprof.htm.

For information, go to:

  • Water Conservation Toolbox. http://metrocouncil.org/environment/WaterSupply/conservationtoolbox_residential.htm
  • Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense program. http://www.epa.gov/watersense/index.htm
  • University of Minnesota Extension Service Low Input Lawn Care. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/DG7552.html
  • Irrigation Association Consumer Handbook. http://www.irrigation.org/Rsrcs/default.aspx?pg=consumer_info.htm#5
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