Outdoor Water Savings Tips

This spring, when you head out to work in your yard and garden remember that water use can rise as much as 50 per cent in the warmer months. In Alberta, water shortages are a reality in the summer, and there are lots of ways to reduce your water usage.

Be more efficient

  • Monitor rainfall. Don’t repeat nature’s work.
  • Use automatic timers on sprinklers.
  • Ensure your hose and sprinkler are working correctly and free of leaks.
  • Clean your sidewalks and driveway with a broom instead of the hose.
  • Larger planter pots are more efficient. The additional soil retains water better.
  • Follow watering bans and regulations. They exist for a reason.
  • Your garden doesn’t need the municipally treated tap water that is delivered by your hose. Use water from a rain barrel instead. These are available from a variety of local retailers.
  • Use a car wash or self-serve wand wash. Washing your vehicle in your driveway not only uses more water, it also drains potentially hazardous and toxic soaps into our storm water system.  The storm water system will eventually lead to a storm pond and into our rivers and lakes where it can impact wildlife and our drinking water.

Minimize evaporation

  • Water during the coolest parts of the day.
  • Choose a sprinkler that best suits the area you are watering. Do not water the sidewalks and driveway. Low angle or pulsating sprinklers are better than sprinklers that go high into the air.
  • Avoid watering on windy and/or particularly hot days.
  • Invest in a drip-irrigation system, which targets the roots.
  • Water trees and shrubs with a soaker hose to target their root system. Once established, these need less water.
  • Don’t over-water lawns
  • Your lawn only needs 2.5 cm of water a week, about as much as it takes to fill a Frisbee® or tuna can. Most sprinklers can achieve this in about an hour.
  • Watering once a week produces a healthy root system which makes your lawn more resistant to drought.
  • Set your mower blade high (6 cm) and your lawn will require less water.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn to help insulate the roots and reduce evaporation.
  • Weed regularly to remove plants that compete for water and nutrients.
  • Limit fertilizer use – it increases the demand for water.
  • Aerate your lawn by punching holes in it annually so water reaches the roots

Create a water-wise landscape by ‘xeriscaping’

  • Use drought tolerant native grasses, shrubs and trees
  • Reduce the size of your lawn
  • Use mulch around shrubs and trees to reduce weed growth and evaporation
  • Add compost to soils to improve water retention