Ahhh, it’s July. Time for barbecues, beaches, and blistering hot days. There’s nothing like an ice-cold glass of water to quench a summer thirst, am I right? We’re not the only ones parched; our lawns and landscaping are languishing under the sun’s summer rays too.
As you might expect, July is not only the hottest month of the year in most states, it’s the month that traditionally sees the highest demand for water resources. The U.S. EPA reports1 that about 30% of homeowners’ household water usage is attributed to outdoor uses, primarily landscape irrigation. To make matters worse, many of us overwater our lawns, which further exacerbates the strain on local water systems and can make your water bill skyrocket — and it’s not good for the lawn either. Too much water can weaken the roots, promote weeds, and lead to patchy areas of brown and yellow grass. Excess water runoff from sprinkler systems (and washing cars) can also increase the load to your local wastewater treatment facility.
Being efficient about outdoor water use is so important that the entire month of July has been designated Smart Irrigation Month.2 Established by the Irrigation Association in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month is a time to promote awareness of water-saving practices and technologies3 to help us be better stewards of our most precious natural resource. So, before you drown your Kentucky Bluegrass in H2O, here are a few smart watering tips to ensure you’re only using what you need.
- Check your local water restrictions. You might be surprised to find that even areas that seem to have plenty of water can impose water restrictions during the summer months. Sometimes, for example, the local water utility is only able to pump a certain amount of water per day or withdraw a certain amount from its supply source. If it’s all used up for irrigation, there won’t be enough for other household needs. (Buh-bye, shower!)
- Choose the right plants to suit your local climate and your property. Look for grasses and plants that don’t require a lot of water.
- Test your soil. Healthy soil equals healthy plants with strong root systems that can tolerate less frequent watering.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch. It keeps the soil cool around your trees, shrubs, and plants, decreases evaporation, and controls pesky weeds that pilfer water away from those roses you worked so hard to grow.
- Water during the cooler times of day (early morning is great!). This limits evaporation and prevents water loss.
- Mow less frequently. Who doesn’t love to hear that?!
- Consider an irrigation system. They incorporate many water-saving features such as smart controllers that can automatically adjust the amount of water delivered (and the frequency) based on rainfall, soil condition, and evaporation. (Pretty cool, huh?)
- If you already have an irrigation system, Smart Irrigation Month is a great time to have it inspected! Get it checked for leaks, clogs, obstructions, and pressure levels to ensure it’s operating at top efficiency.
Remember, in regions battling water scarcity (and even in regions that are seemingly water rich), being efficient about water use can benefit the environment, your community, and your wallet. Happy (smart) irrigating!
- “Water Efficient Landscaping,” United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water (4204M) EPA832-F-02-002, September 2002. https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/waterefficiency.pdf