Water is our most precious resource; however, it is often taken for granted. Although Minnesota appears to have a more than adequate supply of water, increasing demand from domestic, agricultural, and industrial water users can strain water resources and municipal water supply systems, especially during periods of drought.
Water conservation can reduce the demand placed upon groundwater and surface water sources and municipal water supply systems. Conservation can save water users money by reducing water bills, or reducing electrical consumption and maintenance costs for private well owners. Municipalities can reduce water and sewage treatment costs and delay or eliminate expensive infrastructure improvements by encouraging customers to reduce water consumption.
Lawn care tips for the summer
Know your water use
- To get an idea of your summer water use, compare a winter water bill to a summer one. You may be surprised how much more water you use in the summer and how much more it costs you.
- Raise your mowing height to 3 - 4 inches. Long grass requires less water, tolerates heat better and helps promote root growth.
Schedule irrigation wisely
- Water your lawn no more than 1 inch per week, depending on the type of soil beneath your lawn. On clay soil, 1 inch per week may be too much.
- Once or twice a week watering is better than every other day because it encourages deeper roots.
- Water only in the early morning or evening to avoid evaporation.
- Allow your lawn to go dormant during dry periods of the summer. Brown is okay during the heat of summer.
Use efficient irrigation systems
- Install a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor for automatic sprinkler systems. These technologies shut off the sprinkler system if it has rained recently.
- Inspect and replace irrigation spray nozzles. New nozzles are much more efficient than old varieties. With the water on, use multiple catch-cans to measure and see if the distribution is uniform. Make sure they are not spraying on streets, sidewalks or driveways.
- Repair irrigation systems or hose leaks immediately.
- Have your automatic sprinkler system inspected by a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor. They can suggest water efficiency improvements for your sprinkler system and help you save water. Consider downsizing or shutting off your irrigation system at least in some zones.
Limit your turf
- For healthy turf, make sure the soil is healthy. High traffic areas need to be aerated occasionally and may need compost or fertilizer enrichment.
- Consider your lawn from a water wise perspective. Group plants according to their water needs. Limit turf areas to those needed for recreation or other functional purposes. Use the rest of the area for alternative plants that are beautiful but less water needy.
- Turn some of your lawn into a native plant garden; you'll need less water and it will attract bufferflies and pollinators.
- Consider planting trees strategically in your yard to shade your home. This reduces energy use in your home and reduces water needs in your yard.
Remember your soil and mulch
- Mulch flower gardens and around young trees to reduce evaporation, limit heat stress and reduce weeds.
Water conservation information
- Conservation Measures for Water Supply Systems (Minnesota DNR)
- Water Conservation Toolbox: Residents (Metropolitan Council)
- Water Conservation Toolbox: Programs for Water Suppliers (Metropolitan Council)
- Residential Water Conservation Information (American Water Works Association - AWWA)
- Water Conservation - Resource Community (American Water Works Association)
- Water Conservation Learning Site - WaterLearn (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)
- WaterSense Program (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- Water Efficiency and Sustainable Use (Alliance for Water Efficiency)
- Alliance for Water Efficiency Business Guide (Alliance for Water Efficiency)