Smart Watering Starts BEFORE You Turn on the Garden Hose

Smart watering makes use of automatic water sprinkler to ensure watering is done at the best time of daySmart watering guidelines usually offer advice on how often and when to water your lawn and garden in order to keep things green while being eco-friendly. While this advice is important, using water smart landscape design, you can further lighten your footprint and conserve water before you even turn on your garden hose.

Here are 5 simple smart watering landscape design tips you can use to help save water and money during the heat of summer

Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan

Drought-resistant plants native to Illinois, such as Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan, add both beauty and good water sense to local garden beds.

1.  Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants using smart watering landscape practices

  • First of all, if you are planting a new lawn, or overseeding an existing lawn, use blends of grasses with deep roots to deliver drought and heat protection. A good example is Pennington Smart Seed’s Tall Fescue that creates a dense root system requiring up to 30% less water than other turf grasses.
  • Also, many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water-Smart Landscape recommendations for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard.
  • Since foliage readily absorbs water and prevents soil erosion, cultivate slopes with plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff.
  • Finally, group plants according to their watering needs.
Smart watering makes use of organic mulch

Smart watering includes the use of organic mulch and compost around trees, pathways and in garden beds.

2.  Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants

  • Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture and discourage weed growth.
  • Plus, adding 2 – 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
  • Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression that will prevent or minimize water runoff.
  • Here’s more information about mulch materials and their best use: Mulch
Smart watering includes using strategically placed soaker hoses

Strategically placed soaker hoses greatly improve outdoor watering efficiency.

3.  Add organic matter and use efficient watering systems for shrubs, flower beds and lawns
Adding organic material to your soil will help increase its absorption and water retention. In addition, areas which are already planted can be ‘top dressed’ with compost or organic matter.

Plus, you can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by:

  • Placing soaker hoses strategically throughout your garden beds;
  • Installing a rain barrel water catchment system;
  • Implementing a simple drip-irrigation system;
  • Avoiding over-watering of plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves;
  • And using a variable spray nozzle when hand watering, for targeted watering thereby reducing water waste

Sweeping the deck, rather than hosing it off, makes good water sense– and can be a great way to let the kids help out!

4.  Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks

Since we usually have the hose going to water the plants and lawn, it’s tempting to use it to clean off hardscape surfaces such as sidewalks, decks and patios. But this generally results in over-watering or run-off which is both wasteful and potentially damaging to the the landscape. Use a broom instead!

Leaky outdoor spigots can be an often-overlooked enemy to smart watering.

5.  Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings

Another huge, and sometimes overlooked, water waster is faulty outdoor plumping and connections. Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they’re not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.

Learn more smart watering tips at the U.S. EPA’s guide to WaterSense.

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