Simple Ways to Save Water Outdoors

June 20, 2022 By , , ,

Did you know that on average, outdoor water use accounts for about 30 percent of a household’s daily water consumption? If you live in a dry part of the country, that number may climb even higher. From big changes to small actions, there are simple things you can do to save water outdoors this summer, including switching to drought-tolerant plants, xeriscaping, and addressing water leaks at their source.

Why Save Water Outdoors?

While the planet might seem like it has abundant water, in fact, less than 1 percent of it is available for human use; the rest is a combination of ocean salt water or fresh water that is frozen or too remote for practical use.

Of the water that an average household uses outdoors, more than half of it is devoted to maintaining our lawns and gardens, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

Additionally, most families increase their outdoor water use in other ways during the summer without realizing it, including filling swimming pools, running through the sprinklers, or ignoring water leaks.

Too much outdoor water use can lead to a variety of consequences for communities, such as:

  • Increased water prices
  • Summer watering restrictions
  • Costly water treatment projects to transport freshwater
  • Seasonal loss of recreational areas, such as lakes and rivers

 

Close up of xeriscaping in yard to save water outdoors.

How Can We Curb Outdoor Water Use?

1. Drought-tolerant plants

While outdoor landscaping is important to protect home value, you can save money, conserve water, and boost curb appeal by switching to drought-tolerant plants. Most drought-tolerant plants are low-maintenance and require little-to-no watering, such as rose moss, most varieties of geraniums, or trumpet vine.

When selecting plants, it’s important to try to find ones that are native to your general area. Reference the Plant Hardiness Zone Map to see which plants are most likely to thrive at a location and to help to save water outdoors.

2. Xeriscape your yard

The average adult spends approximately 91 hours a year mowing, fertilizing, and weeding their yard; with xeriscaping, you can drastically reduce that number and help to save water outdoors.  Pronounced “zee-rah-scaping,” it means to use drought-tolerant plants to conserve water and establish a waste-efficient landscape across your entire outdoor space.

Before visiting the plant store, do some research into different plants’ sun and shade requirements, costs, maintenance needs, and water requirements. You may also want to investigate colors, blooming time, and shape.

Benefits of xeriscaping to save water outdoors:

Reduced water waste. By some estimates, xeriscaping can reduce landscape water usage by 50 percent.

Reduced maintenance. Xeriscaping focuses on plants that naturally thrive in your area. Water requirements are low, and only occasional pruning and weeding are necessary.

Reduced pollution. Xeriscaping helps the environment by reducing demand for chemical supplements and for gas-powered mowers and lawn equipment.

Pro Tip: Did you know that states offer xeriscape landscaping incentives that put cash back in your pocket?

Some drawbacks of xeriscaping to save water outdoors:

Functionality. You may not be able to use your yard in the same manner as before. Replacing grass with rocks or mulch means that there may not be as much room for kids or pets to play.

Aesthetics. The design elements in xeriscaping are rough, which may give your landscape a rugged look. Additionally, many of the plants may have sharp thorns and/or edges, making them difficult to handle, and the lack of green grass may discourage potential buyers if you eventually choose to move.

Time and money upfront. Depending on its size, you may have to invest a lot of time and money to xeriscape your yard, especially toward the beginning of the process. You may need to install a new irrigation system and will need to uproot and remove plants and trees and find suitable replacements. This work will decrease over time, but you have to put in some hours to get there.

Close up of water leaks on backyard faucet.

3. Check for Outdoor Water Leaks

You should inspect your faucets regularly for water leaks, especially after a freeze. Look for leaks by switching your faucet on for a minute, then shutting it off; while doing this, watch for signs of water where it doesn’t belong, such as along the wall or at the base of the faucet.

You should also inspect your garden hoses. If you see one leaking, tighten the packing nut with a wrench until it stops; if that doesn’t work, take some plumber’s tape and wrap it around the stem, then push the packing nut back into place and tighten it. There’s also a chance the main washer inside the hose bib is worn out and needs to be replaced.

You can use your water meter to check for water leaks by:

  • Shutting off all water in and outside your home.
  • Note the number on the water meter, then wait for an hour.
  • Check the meter again to see if the number went up; if it did, there’s probably a water leak somewhere on your property.

Walk the perimeter of your property to search for locations that show signs of a possible water leak, such as a muddy spot or spongy grass. If you can’t find the leak, it may be time to call a professional.

Thinking of making any other home improvements to save water outdoors this summer? Reach out to your local Mortgage Advisor to get started, or visit our blog for ideas and resources.

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