How You Can Save Water
Over 20% of the average Wichitan's annual water usage can be attributed to use outside the home. Since outside usage occurs mainly during the summer and is easier to reduce than inside usage, the City is highlighting outdoor water conservation tips first. As we approach the end of the summer, indoor tips will be added. Follow the simple steps outlined below and discover how easy it can be to conserve water and save money on your water bill!
- Top 3 Water Saving Tips
- Watering Tips
- Plant & Lawn Care Tips
- Pool Care Tips
- Other Tips & Resources
Saving water doesn't have to be difficult. We picked the three easiest ways to make a difference without much effort.
- Water before 10 am - Water your grass before 10 am to avoid the hottest times of the day. Watering during the early morning will increase efficiency, as less water will evaporate. Early morning watering also helps to avoid fungal problems associated with late evening and night watering.
- Water deeper and less often - It's better to water less often and increase the amount of time you water instead. This approach is more effective than watering a little bit every day. Not only does this method reduce evaporation, it makes your yard more drought-tolerant by encouraging deeper root growth.
- Mow higher and mulch clippings - Mow your grass one inch higher during the summer. Also, mulch your lawn clippings instead of bagging them! Not only do clippings provide a good nutrient source for your lawn, they can provide shade for the ground and root system, reducing evaporation.
Watering deeper, less often, and before 10 am are great steps to saving water while watering your lawn. The tips below can also help you save money and water while keeping your landscape healthy.
- Adjust your sprinkler system - Concrete doesn't need water. When you run your irrigation system, make sure you're keeping the water on your lawn, not the sidewalk or driveway. Check out this video to learn how to adjust your sprinkler heads to keep your lawn watered and your concrete dry.
- Use a rain barrel - Capture rainwater with a rain barrel to use later for watering your plants. Not only is this a great way to reuse water that would otherwise be lost, the cost of the rain barrel (up to $75) is covered by the City's Water Conservation Rebate Program!
- Water your lawn only when needed - Think your lawn needs water? Walk across it. If the blades of grass spring back up, you can wait another day before watering. Are your footsteps still visible? If so, there isn't much water left inside the blades of grass, which means it's time to turn on the sprinklers.
- Don't water when it's windy - Try not to water when the wind is above 15 miles per hour as the majority of the water could miss the intended areas. Also, high wind speeds significantly speed up evaporation, which means that the water that does stay on course is less effective.
- Upgrade your sprinkler system - Consider purchasing a smart irrigation system controller. Not only can it save you a lot of water and eventually pay for itself, it's an eligible item in the City's Water Conservation Rebate Program! Don't have the money for a smart irrigation controller but still want to save water and money? Try installing a rainwater shutoff valve. They aren't part of the rebate program but they are more affordable and can still save a lot of water.
- Go the extra mile - For the most efficient and effective watering system possible, consider hiring a professional for an irrigation system audit. The audit can pinpoint problem spots and result in conservation improvements which can more than pay for the cost of the audit.
Saving water isn't just about watering habits, it's also about making smart landscaping and maintenance decisions. The tips below offer some small changes that can save a lot of water.
- Mow at a higher level - Cool season grasses (fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass) make optimal use of water when they are mowed at 2.5 inches in the spring, and 3.5 inches during the summer. Warm-season grasses (bermuda, buffalo, and zoysia) prefer to be mowed at 2 inches in the spring and 3 inches during the summer. No matter which type of grass you have, follow the basic rule of thumb and raise your mower one inch when it starts getting hot!
- Mulch your grass - Don't bag your lawn clippings, mulch instead! Not only do they provide a good nutrient source for your lawn, they can provide shade for the ground and root system, reducing evaporation.
- Mulch your landscape - Use wooden mulch in your landscape to reduce evaporation and protect against weeds.
- Use suitable plants - Need new plants? Consider using plants from this list of water-wise plants created by the Sedgwick County K-State Research and Extension Office (PDF). Replacing part of your lawn or starting fresh? Consider planting a warm-season grass, such as Bermuda, buffalo, or zoysia, to take advantage of their low water usage and drought tolerance.
- Install a Xeriscape landscape - If you have decided to start fresh with your landscape or don't have one yet, consider planning it around Xeriscape principles. Xeriscaping does not mean filling your yard with rocks and cactus. It simply means working with your natural environment instead of against it. Knowing your soil type, installing an efficient irrigation system, selecting drought-resistant plants, and utilizing rock gardens where possible are all important aspects of xeriscaping.
While backyard pools are a fun way to cool down in the heat of the summer, they require a large amount of water. Below are some tips on how to minimize the amount of water your pool loses. Remember, every drop makes an impact.
- Cover your pool - During the heat of the summer, swimming pools can lose several feet of water to evaporation. Covering your pool when it's not in use is a great way to minimize this loss of water.
- Check for leaks - Pool leaks can lose vast amounts of water. If you notice your pool seems to be losing more water than usual, use a grease pencil to mark the water level. 24 hours later, compare the water level to where you had previously marked. If there is more than an inch difference, you may have a leak that needs to be repaired.
- Backwash only when necessary - Most people backwash more often than is necessary. Only backwash as needed and just long enough for the water to run clean. Also, try and use your backwash water for watering your landscape! The levels of chlorine present in properly cared-for pools are not harmful to plants.
Every drop we save makes an impact. Below are some additional water conservation tips and resources -check them out!
- Visit the carwash - Don't wash the car at home, instead visit a local car wash. While it may cost a little extra, it's a more efficient use of water and more environmentally friendly. The soap and dirt that washes off of your car runs down your driveway and drains to the river, while businesses treat the dirty water through the sewer system.
- You don't need water to clean everything - Patios, decks, walls, and driveways can all be cleaned by broom rather than water. It may take longer, but saving every drop helps make an impact!