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Is Your Yard Water-Smart? Conserve with Thoughtful Landscaping

June 12, 2018

We often experience drought, here in Georgia. In fact, we just recently got out of one a few weeks ago. During those times, we might have to follow certain water restrictions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take a few steps now so the next drought isn’t so bad?

If we use our water wisely at all times, we’ll have more available when drought comes. A great place to start is to rethink how we use water for our yards and gardens. The average U.S. household uses more water outdoors than for showering and washing clothes combined.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides several great tips for households trying to reduce their water usage. For starters:

  • Design a water-smart landscape
  • Learn when and how much to water your plants
  • Use WaterSense labeled products
  • Hire an irrigation professional

Choose Native Plants

When planning your landscaping, stick with native plants — specifically those plants defined as low water use or drought tolerant for your area. With these plants, your garden will have a better chance to thrive with little, if any, water beyond normal rainfall. And since native plants are adapted to local soils and climatic conditions, they probably won’t need fertilizer and are more resistant to pests and diseases.

Build your native plant list online with EcoScapes.

Place Plants Strategically

When you decide where to place what plants, plan for:

  • How much sunlight they need (don’t place a plant that needs shade in full sunlight)
  • What type of soil they need (use a soil test kit throughout your site)
  • How much water they need (group plants with similar watering needs)

Consider reducing the amount of grass in your yard since it tends to require more water than other plants. Try placing it only where it has a practical function, like a play area. Instead of grass, you can plant native groundcover and shrubs in the rest of your yard. These typically require less water than grass but are just as good at preventing erosion, especially on steep slopes.

Wherever you plant shrubs and garden plants, use mulch. This can help reduce evaporation, moderate soil temperature, and prevent weed growth and erosion. Many municipal sanitation departments offer mulch at a small cost to residents. Contact your local government to find out if there is a mulch service available near you.

Upgrade Your Equipment

By maintaining your home irrigation system, you can save water. Even a small leak can quickly waste thousands of gallons a year! Spruce up your irrigation system with 4 steps:

  1. Inspect your system for clogged and broken sprinkler heads
  2. Connect sprinkler heads securely to the hose to prevent leaks
  3. Direct your sprinklers only at the landscape
  4. Select a WaterSense labeled, weather-based irrigation controller

A simple way to conserve water, even without a full irrigation system, is to connect a rain barrel to your downspout. That way, you can collect rain water to use later for gardening and washing your car. DeKalb County’s Beautification Unit provides a helpful resource on using rain barrels.

Water-Smart Landscape Gallery

Are you worried these guidelines will limit your landscape in a not-so-pretty way? Take a look through WaterSense’s water-smart landscape photos in the southeastern U.S. and you’ll see there’s nothing to worry about!

Hire a Pro

Seem like a lot to keep track of? Find a WaterSense certified professional near you to design, install, maintain, and audit your irrigation system. In the end, you can reduce waste and save money. Your landscape and your budget will thank you!

Rachel Hart

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience Designer for Digital Services Georgia. On Georgia.gov, she makes government material approachable with writing, infographics, videos, and other imagery.

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