Outdoor Water Conservation
59. Use a watering can or a shut-off nozzle on your hoses.
During just 10 minutes of washing a car or watering plants, a standard hose uses about 100 gallons (source). Using an automatic shutoff nozzle on your garden hose or filling up a watering can saves the water that would otherwise be wasted when the hose is not actually in use or aimed at your desired target.
60. Avoid mid-day watering of your lawn and gardens.
If the garden or lawn receives water at mid-day, when the temperature is highest, some of the water will evaporate from the wet soil and plants before it has the chance to soak into the ground. Watering in the early morning provides plants with water at their most active period of transpiration, when they are taking up the most water through their roots. It also allows them to dry off before the cool night temperatures set in, reducing the chance of disease (source).
61. Use a broom, rather than a hose or leaf blower, to clean sidewalks, driveways, patios, and other impermeable surfaces.
Running a standard hose for just 10 minutes uses 100 gallons of water (source). Make sure to pick up any swept-up waste and put it in a trash can or compost pile, not the gutter or storm drain. Sweeping the waste into the gutter only adds to the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Remember, “Only rain down the drain!”
62. Use mulch in gardens and landscaping.
The use of mulch in gardens and landscaping helps to conserve water by absorbing and storing moisture for plants. It also insulates the ground from hot temperatures during summer months, decreasing the evaporation rate of water. In cool temperatures, the mulch can help keep plants warm; this can be especially useful for protecting seedlings in the spring (source).
You can purchase high quality mulch and compost produced through Frederick County’s yard waste recycling program by visiting the 9031 Reichs Ford Road facility. You can also get lower-quality single-ground mulch at no-charge.
63. Use “grey” water for watering plants.
“Grey water” is a term for used water from your shower, bath, washing machine, sinks, cookware, and fish bowls that you can use to water your gardens and reduce your water bills. Grey water does not include water from toilets, which is considered black water. Be creative in the ways that you collect your grey water: save water used to boil vegetables, pasta, and eggs. Collect dripping water from your window air conditioning unit. Collect water used to rinse fruits and vegetables.
64. Use slow-drip irrigation for watering plants.
Slow-drip irrigation delivers water to plants at a slower rate that better matches their absorption rates, helping to minimize evaporation of water from plants and the soil surrounding them. Slow-drip irrigation can be facilitated through use of a soaker hose or watering bags. Click to learn how you can make your own slow-watering devices for free.
65. Plant drought-resistant plants.
Planting drought-resistant plants in your lawn and landscaping reduces the amount of watering required to keep the plants healthy. The EPA estimates that a household can save 20-50% of their outdoor watering needs by converting to a water-efficient landscape through the use of drought-resistant plants and careful design (source). Click for a drought resistant landscaping guide, guidelines to xeriscaping, or tips on conserving landscaping water from the Maryland Cooperative Extension.
66. Refrain from watering your lawn.
30% of the water consumed on the East Coast goes toward watering lawns (source). The easiest way to cut your household’s water use is to stop watering your lawn. Watering your lawn also makes your grass grow faster, and the higher your grass grows, the more often you need to mow your lawn. See action 77 to learn about the environmental impacts of lawn mowing.
67. Install a rain barrel or cistern.
Rain barrels and cisterns trap water from your downspouts and store it for future uses like watering your garden. They can help to reduce the amount of stormwater entering storm drains headed for the Chesapeake Bay. Learn more from our Tips for Green Leaders Rain Barrel Fact Sheet. For more information, check out this guide on rainwater harvesting or this rain barrels video.
Total “Outdoor Water Conservation” Green Points: