by guest bloggers from the EPA's WaterSense program
This summer's heat wave is expected to result in a serious spike in the amount of water being used outdoors. Late July and early August are usually when outdoor water use soars in most of the U.S., but some regions report overwatering well into the fall. And if steps aren't taken to make water use more efficient, communities will face major challenges managing droughts and depletion of freshwater resources.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published these 3 facts about summertime overwatering, and the agency's top 8 tips to save water this summer.
Three Facts about Summertime Overwatering
- Depending on the region, homeowners use between 30 and 70 percent of their water outdoors.
- Experts estimate that 50 percent of the water we use outdoors goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering.
- The average American home uses about 260 gallons of water per day. During the hotter months, homes can use about 1,000 gallons of water a day. Some use as much as 3,000 gallons per day, or the equivalent of leaving a garden hose running for nearly eight hours!
Whether your home has a sprinkler/irrigation system or not, there are a number of simple steps you can take to promote a healthier lawn and garden with less water this summer.
- 1: Timing is everything. Know how much water your landscape actually needs before you set your sprinkler. Your local utility or garden center can recommend how much water particular plants need in your region and the best times of day to water. It's generally best to water lawns and landscapes in the early morning and late evening because large amounts of water can be lost due to evaporation during the heat of the day.
- 2: Look for the label. If your irrigation system uses a clock timer, consider upgrading to a WaterSense-labeled controller. WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers act like a thermostat for your lawn, using local weather data to determine when and how much to water, which reduces waste and improves plant health!
- 3: Tune up your system. Inspect irrigation systems and check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Fix sprinkler heads that are broken or are spraying on the sidewalk, street, or driveway.
- 4: Play zone defense. When planting, assign areas of your landscape to different hydrozones, depending on sun/shade exposure, soil and plant types, and type of sprinklers, and adjust your irrigation system or watering schedule based on those zones' specific needs. This helps you avoid overwatering some areas or underwatering others.
- 5: Step on it. Grass doesn't always need water just because it's hot out. Step on the lawn, and if the grass springs back, it doesn't need water. An inexpensive soil moisture sensor can also show the amount of moisture at the plant's roots and discourage overwatering.
- 6: Leave it long. Raise your lawn mower blade. Longer grass promotes deeper root growth, resulting in a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation, and fewer weeds.
- 7: Go with a pro. Contractors certified through a WaterSense-labeled program can audit, install, or maintain home irrigation systems to ensure water isn't wasted. Make sure you ask for credentials.
- 8: Give your hose a break. Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off. And don't forget to check for leaks at your spigot connection, tightening it as necessary.
WaterSense is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that helps people save water with a product label and tips for saving water around the house. Products carrying the WaterSense label perform well, help save money, and encourage innovation n manufacturing.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com