For many of us, warmer weather means hanging out in the backyard to play with kids or fire up the grill. It also means our water usage can go up in order to help our lawns and landscaping survive those hot days. Fortunately, there are ways to conserve water – and energy, too – in your outdoor paradise. Here's how:
Water Early or Late in the Day
The best time to water your garden is in the morning or evening, because you'll lose less water to wind and evaporation.
Change Your Irrigation Methods
If you're still hand watering or turning on sprinklers, you might want to switch to drip irrigation or use rotating sprinkler heads to reduce your water use. You can even install a smart sprinkler controller. It will adjust how much water and when to water based on weather conditions, what type of soil you have, and how much shade your plants receive.
Spread Mulch Around
If you haven't replaced the mulch in your backyard lately, do it now. It reduces water loss, keeps nutrients in the soil, and — bonus points! – prevents weeds from taking over. Mulch comes in different varieties, from organic to inorganic, and should be replenished periodically.
Replace Your Grass
Your lawn is one of the most water-intensive plants in your yard. And, as you know, it requires year-round maintenance. If you no longer have young children, maybe it's time to replace your grass with artificial turf or drought tolerant landscaping. You'll have all the green you want – without the hassle.
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Sweep that Driveway
Sure, it's easy to just turn on the hose and wash away the dirt that accumulates on your driveway, but that puts you on the fast track to being a water hog. Instead, use a broom.
Install Solar Landscape Lighting
Solar landscape lights are super easy to assemble and will help you save on your energy bill. Of course, if you already have traditional landscape lighting that requires electricity, consider replacing light bulbs from traditional incandescent to halogen incandescent, CFLs (compact florescent lamps), or LEDs (light-emitting diodes). All three types are much more energy efficient.
Use Timers and Motion Sensors to Control Lighting
You can install a timer for your traditional outdoor lighting so it will go on and off at the time you choose. You'll need to periodically adjust it for daylight saving time or shorter days in winter, but that's a small price to pay for convenience the rest of the year.
You might also consider motion sensors for outdoor lighting, such as at the back door or front door. Rather than being on for eight hours or more, the motion sensor will illuminate only when someone approaches at night. Motion sensors also enhance outdoor security.
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Be Water Wise: Water Saving Tips: http://www.bewaterwise.com/tips.shtml
Be Water Wise: Mulch http://bewaterwise.com/Gardensoft/tips_04_02.html
Save Our Water: http://saveourwater.com/
EPA Water Sense: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoors
California Water Service: How can I save water in my garden? https://www.calwater.com/conservation/can-save-water-garden/
Energy.gov: Lighting Choices to Save You Money: http://energy.gov/energysaver/lighting-choices-save-you-money
Energy.gov: Big Savings on Outdoor Lighting: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/big-savings-outdoor-lighting
Energy.gov: Lighting: http://energy.gov/public-services/homes/saving-electricity/lighting
Energy.gov: Lighting Controls: http://energy.gov/energysaver/lighting-controls