According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 30 percent of this use occurs outdoors.
At the Hillsboro Water Department, we are always ready to celebrate efficient water use, especially this month. Here are some tips to be outdoor water wise:
Landscape to suit your lot. Choose grass or plants that have low water requirements and will thrive in your local climate. Consider your lot’s exact features, including sun and shade, dry and damp areas, plant size, and how you plan to use each section of your yard. Not sure what types of plants you want in your garden? Use our 7 Basic Steps for Creating Water Efficient Landscapes brochure and the Water-Efficient Plant Guide to start exploring the possibilities.
Keep soil healthy. Aerating your lawn and around trees at least once a year helps improve water penetration. When planting, turn and cultivate the soil and add compost or fertilizer to improve moisture retention and grow healthier plants that need less water to stay strong.
“Hydro-zone” your yard. Grouping plants with similar moisture needs in the same area makes it easier to make sure they get the water they need without over-watering. Separate plants from grassy areas, which have different water requirements.
Invest in an Irrigation System
Use components that provide flexibility. Different plants have different watering needs, and these needs may change over time. Your system should allow you to apply the right amount of water for each type of plant by the most effective method.
Think smart. Consider investing in a WaterSense Weather-Based Irrigation Controller. After installation, apply for up to a $200 dollar rebate from the Hillsboro Water Department.
Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
Water only when needed. Sign up to receive a free, personalized Weekly Watering Number – or the amount of water in inches that your lawn will need that week - each Thursday from April to September.
Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, five-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
Maintain and Upgrade Your System
Inspect your system monthly. Check for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads, and other problems. Clean clogged screens and micro-irrigation filters as needed.
Adjust sprinkler heads. Remove or correct obstructions that prevent sprinklers from distributing water evenly.
Adjust sprinkler head positions and spray patterns to avoid watering sidewalks or structures and to provide necessary clearance over growing plants.
Check the pressure. Pressure can change over time and negatively affect system efficiency.
Inspect the system for leaks. Leaks are a huge water waster. A good contractor can perform regular maintenance checks for leaks, broken or clogged spray heads, and other problems. Ask them to show you common problems to watch for between visits.