Tips for Reducing Outdoor Water Use

The following simple steps can reduce your outdoor water use significantly and save money on your water bill:

  • Recognize that different areas require different water. For example, grass areas should be watered separately from shrubs, flowerbeds and other plants. Landscape plants should be zoned according to similar water needs. For the best results, the type of watering system should be selected based on the landscape arrangement and types of plants.
  • Use proper watering equipment. Grass areas are best watered with sprinklers. Trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers can be watered efficiently with low-volume drip, spray, soaker or bubbler emitters and devices.
  • Keep equipment well maintained. Regular adjustment of the irrigation system can save water and money.

Lawn Watering Practices

Studies have shown that the typical lawn often receives twice as much water as required to maintain healthy grass.

Know when to water by closely observing the grass. Either use a moisture probe or wait for signs of stress, such as a dull green color, footprints that remain visible after walking on the lawn, or curled blades of grass before watering.

To water efficiently, first determine how much water your sprinkler applies:

  1. Set three to give empty cans at different distances from the sprinkler, with the last can near the edge of the sprinkler coverage.
  2. Run the sprinkler for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the number of inches of water in all the cans and divide the total by the number of cans to obtain an average.
  4. Multiply the average by two to determine how many inches of water are applied in one hour.

According to the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, Bermuda grass in the Grand Prairie area needs about 1 inch to 1.5 inches of water applied every 7-10 days. St. Augustine needs about 1.5 to 1.75 inches every five days and Buffalo grass needs about 1 inch every two to five weeks.

Water during the early morning or evening hours since evaporation losses will be up to 60 percent higher during the day. Do not water between 10am and 6 pm or on windy days. Set sprinklers so the lawn is watered, not sidewalks and driveways.

Use an overlapping sprinkler pattern to cover the lawn evenly. Lawns on sandy soil require more frequent watering than lawns on loam or clay soils. Water can be applied less often to clay and loam soils, but it should be applied more slowly to prevent runoff.

To avoid runoff on sloping areas, place sprinklers near the top of the slope. Apply water slowly for 5-15 minutes, then turn it back on for 5-15 minutes, etc., until the correct amount of water has been applied.

Texas SmartScape: Using Native Texas Plants to Conserve Water

The Texas SmartScape program utilizes xeriscape principles, but goes beyond the basics by providing the design, care and plan search tools that are "smart" for North Central Texas. Learn more from the Texas SmartScape website.