sprinkler.jpg Watering your lawn might seem like a must once summer rolls around. Under the hot sun, your grass is prone to burning up quickly. This can result in brown grass that no one wants to see while walking up to the house. If you know someone who has become obsessive with lawn watering (or that person is you), you may want to think about the consequences of water consumption. Grass watering may seem like a normal, up-keep chore, but it might be doing more harm to the environment than good.

Learn the facts

The average American household uses 320 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Shockingly, 30 percent of this water goes toward outdoor use. While it may be eye pleasing to tend to your garden and lawn, you aren’t the only one who’s worried about landscape irrigation. Outdoor water use on plants, grass and other foliage accounts for one-third of all residential water use. In turn, this results in 9 billion gallons of water consumption per day. Understandably, some regions of the country use more water than others. For instance, a household’s outdoor water usage in the Southwest may be 60 percent of what it consumes daily. However, the main fact to acknowledge is that up to 50 percent of the water used outdoors goes to waste. Water waste is due to several inefficient watering methods and systems. Many of these tactics can be prevented, and here are three ways you can offset your own lawn watering mistakes.
  1. Take care of your weeds. While tall grass can reduce the number of weeds that sprout up in your lawn, there’s no guarantee it will be flawless. For this reason, you’ll want to keep up with the weeds that you spot in your yard. Weeding can be a tedious task, but consider these plants to be invaders, dedicated to ruining your beautiful yard. Weeds are direct competition for grass, utilizing the moisture under your soil. By eliminating them, you are giving your grass more chance to grow strong and plentiful throughout your lawn.
  2. Let your grass grow taller. This might seem like it defeats the point of keeping a manicured lawn. However, taller grass is the key to healthier grass, according to the EPA. When your grass is short, it is more prone to burning under the hot sun. Tall grass shades the surface of the soil, which reduces evaporation. In turn, the grass keeps itself moisturized with little help. Additionally, weeds that attempt to grow beneath the surface are less likely to sprout up due to the shade from tall grass.
  3. Be mindful of the weather. Understandably, the weather plays a large role in the growth and health of your grass. Ideally, you should avoid cutting your grass in the heat of the day when the grass is dry. Doing so will cause the plants to lose water quickly. When it comes to watering, skip it if there has been a rainstorm within the past week. Typically, a storm that leaves a minimum of one-inch of water on your lawn is enough to keep it well irrigated. You also don’t need to heavily water your lawn if there is an upcoming rainstorm in the forecast that could give you at least one inch of water.

The problem with misused water

We would like to think that when we turn on the sprinkler, our lawn is soaking up all of the moisture. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, sprinklers can be one of the most inefficient tools when it comes to watering, and they play a large role in the run-off problem impacting the environment. Water that flows into the sewers can carry everything from lawn chemicals to pet waste. While rainstorms do this naturally during the summer, sprinklers create “unnatural” rainstorms that cause more run-off. Furthermore, the excess water can enhance soil erosion on and off your property. Chemicals that eventually make their way onto other land can have a negative impact on the planet. For instance, lawn chemicals that trail into the forest may be toxic to other species of plants. Additionally, these pollutants are prone to being transported into streams and rivers where wildlife live. In the least, excess water that travels into natural bodies of water can enhance the growth of algae and aquatic weeds. While you’re taking care of your lawn, you could be creating a nuisance out in the wild!

Using your water smartly

You don’t need to fall into the category of people who waste water on lawn care if you educate yourself on more efficient habits. Here are a few more tips to take into account as you look forward to manicuring your yard. First, make it a point to water your lawn during the cooler parts of the day. This means doing so in the evening or early morning to reduce the evaporation. Remember, evaporation means less worthwhile water usage. Next, make sure that your sprinklers are only watering grass – not sidewalks, driveways or streets. They should always be directed toward areas of full grass and soil for maximum efficiency. Finally, check your watering equipment to ensure that it’s all in working order. For instance, your hose and sprinklers should not have any leaks. This can help you verify that you are only using as much water as necessary to water your lawn. While it can be challenging to adjust to life without frequent mowing, you may be surprised at what your yard can look like with a little TLC. In the end, you’ll find water conservation may be the best thing you can do for your grass. For more information on how you can improve the aesthetics and health of your lawn, visit the EPA website. Here, you will also find new ways to conserve water (and money) around the house. The EPA also has a wide variety of information on how water misuse is impacting the environment.