Does your yard have a drinking problem? Always thirsty for that next watering? Overconsumption can be a serious problem for many yards – it either needs too much water, or maybe you’re giving it more water than it needs. Help your landscape curb its water habit and regain its vibrant, healthy life with this ten-step backyard rehab. Watch our ten tips and read more below:
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT’S AT STAKE
More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure to water deeply then, let the soil dry out before watering again. Plants and plant roots definitely need water to survive in the desert, but roots also need oxygen to function properly. Overwatering can cause plant roots to rot and die.
2. RECOGNIZE THE TELLTALE SIGNS
If our plant leaves turn light green or yellow, or you notice algae or mushrooms growing, then you are likely
applying too much water. We have a guide on our website called Landscape Watering by the Numbers to help you provide just the right amount of water to keep your landscape healthy and beautiful.
3. CUT OUT ALL THE BAD INFLUENCES
Weeds compete with your desired plants for nutrients, light and water, so remember to weed your lawn and garden frequently. Get out and weed after a good rain when the soil is moist. It’ll be easier to pluck weeds, roots and all. And speaking of rain, check your yard for small weed seedlings a few weeks after a good rain. They’re easier to remove when they’re small.
4. TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR TOOLS, AND WHEN BROKEN, FIX THEM
Irrigation systems are ‘tools’ that help us water the landscape. Check your irrigation and sprinkler system for leaks from the valve to the emission points. Keep sprinkler heads in good shape. Leaky irrigation system parts or malfunctioning sprinklers or drip emitters can be huge water wasters. Check your irrigation system monthly for things like missing drip emitters or leaks. Use the free Smart Home Water Guide in our water-saver saving toolkit.
5. PRACTICE MODERATION IN ALL THINGS
Water needs of your plants change depending on the season. Adjust your irrigation timers to make sure you water deeply but infrequently. Plants need three to five times more water in summer than in winter. Adjust your irrigation controller seasonally, at least four times per year. Consider installing a SMART controller that will adjust automatically.
6. LIMIT YOUR EXCESSES
Avoid waterfalls and spray fountains. Opt instead for trickling or cascading features for your yard. These options lose less water to evaporation. They can also be very beneficial for cooling spaces or attracting wildlife to your yard. Also, consider your yard exposure and place your water feature in naturally-shaded areas to minimize water loss through evaporation.
7. LEARN WHEN TO LET GO
It’s such a ritual seen in the Valley that some people think you have to overseed your Bermuda grass with winter ryegrass. This is ONLY done if green grass is desired year-round. Allow your lawn to go dormant (brown) in the winter to save thousands of gallons each year. Dormant grass only needs watering every three to four weeks IF we don’t get winter rains. It’s a lot less work, so it will save you time and money. And skipping the winter lawn is better for the health of your summer Bermuda.
8. SEEK ASSISTANCE FROM ABOVE
Install gutters and downspouts to collect rainwater on your roof, then direct the runoff to plants and trees. Mimic nature by creating a desert wash in the landscape to hold and distribute the water to the planted areas. In other areas of your landscape, use paving materials that allow water to soak into the ground below. Learn easy steps you can take to harvest rainwater.
9. FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE
Over-fertilized and over-pruned plants use more water. Fertilizers help plants grow, but new or excessive growth also causes plants to use more water. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer necessary. Allow plant branches to grow low to the ground, and practice selective pruning techniques. Also, leave plant litter, like dropped leaves, under plants as great natural mulch.
10. CALL ON A POWERFUL SOURCE FOR KNOWLEDGE
With up to 70 percent of household water use outdoors, Water –Use it Wisely is your go-to source for water conservation tips and ideas. Before you get started changing your landscape’s habits, tap into all of the resources at wateruseitwisely.com. Spend some time on our website and you’ll find 100+water-saving tips, watering schedules, informative blogs, how-to guides, classes/workshops calendar, games for kids, and much more. And while you’re there, be sure to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter to get great tips on how you can save water delivered right to your inbox.
Our most exciting new additions to our Water – Use It Wisely website are a series of blogs and videos that followed a backyard makeover for the winner of Spring 2016’s Drab to Fab Backyard Rehab contest. Each episode is packed with expert advice, tips, and links for transforming any landscape from drab to fabulous.