In response to the drought, State officials have called on Californians to save 20% of their residential water use. It’s worth the effort to save water while keeping plants and lawns because property values are higher for homes and neighborhoods with attractive landscapes.
Some water districts have mandated outside watering only one day per week. During the heat of summer, this could result in the gradual death of vegetable gardens, perennial flower beds and “cool season” lawns such as Fescue.
We would suggest careful watering two days per week to ensure the survival of these plants while still achieving 20% savings. Here’s some suggested adjustments you can make to save water while keeping the investment you have made in your landscape:
- Practice “deficit irrigation.” This means not keeping your lawn or plant beds as beautifully green during a drought. This alone can save 20% of your outside watering! You’ll see a few brown spots and it’s more efficient to water these by hand once or twice a week rather than overwater your whole landscape. Any spots that die off can be filled in with seed or sod during the cooler months.
- Check your irrigation system for leaky or broken sprinkler heads and overspray, including drip systems. Make needed repairs yourself or hire a landscaper. You will cover some of your costs with long-term water savings.
- Install water-wise plants, including “warm season” lawns such as Hybrid Bermuda grass or St. Augustine. Both these varieties can survive on one day per week watering in the summer once roots have been established.
- Increase mowing height during the summer to provide shade to the base of the grass plants. Plants with shaded root areas require less water than those in direct sunlight.
- For a more detailed plan for managing your lawn during drought, see this publication from the University of California Riverside.
If we all do our part, we can save 20% of our landscape water and still keep our lawns, vegetable gardens and flower beds.