Water Conservation

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For more information, contact
Joshua Campbell at 405-713-1125
 

Water Conservation

Seasonal Tips

Tips to save water in the landscape

With the change of seasons comes an increase of outdoor water usage for irrigation, gardening, and recreation. Up to 50% of water applied during midday to lawns and gardens is lost through evaporation and runoff. Here are a few tips to help conserve water outdoors all year long.

Check out L-432 "Seasonal Landscape Maintenance" for more information.

Spring tips

  • Conduct an irrigation system checkup. Check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Conduct an irrigation audit to determine uniformity and make sure you’re not overwatering (OSU CES Fact Sheet HLA-6610). Observe your irrigation system to ensure it’s not watering streets or sidewalks.
  • Install a rain sensor. A rain sensor turns off your irrigation system during a rain event to help reduce water waste.
  • Consider upgrading to a “Smart” controller. Soil moisture or weather based controllers automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to provide the correct amount of water your landscape needs.
  • Water at the right time and only when needed. The best times to water are early morning and in the evening when the Oklahoma winds are calm and the temperature is cool. This will reduce water loss from evaporation. Also, allowing the soil to dry between watering allows plants to develop strong, deep roots.
  • Mulch. Mulch maintains soil moisture, prevents weeds, reduces soil erosion, and can help improve soil quality as it decomposes.  Maintain a 2 to 3 inch layer around established trees, shrubs, and bedding plants.  Avoid piling too much mulch around the base of trees since it can hold moisture and encourage trunk rot shown below.
  • Redesigning your landscape? Consider a drought resistant garden.  Drought resistant landscapes can be attractive water saving landscapes (L-332). Drought tolerant native or introduced plants can be low maintenance and require less water (L-333).
  • When you go out of town. Make sure someone is keeping an eye on your irrigation system. A broken sprinkler head or a power failure that resets your system can cost you money.

Prepare for summer

  • Continue regular maintenance on your irrigation system.  Check for leaks and make sure hardscapes are not being watered.
  • Adjust your irrigation timer. Make sure you change the irrigation timer to follow any current watering restrictions.  Most yards do not need to be watered every day or even every other day.  Watering frequently produces shallow roots, while watering infrequently and deeply produces strong, deep roots.
  • Consider installing drip or micro-irrigation. To reduce water losses due to evaporation install drip or micro-irrigation in your flower beds, vegetable gardens, and containers.
  • Start a compost bin. Use leaves, vegetable scraps, and twigs in alternating green and brown layers. Compost bins can be made out of old trashcans, chicken wire, or wood pallets.  You can also purchase bins at retail stores.  Compost can be added to the soil to increase water and nutrient holding capacity.  (BAE-1744).

  • Check for drought restrictions. Make sure to check local news sources for any watering restrictions. 

  • Let your grass go dormant. If your grass is turning brown, don’t worry! It may be going dormant to survive the hot, dry summer.

  • Mow your grass at a higher height. Raise the blade on your lawn mower to at least 3 inches high.  This will reduce the need for water and also provides natural mulch that protects the soil moisture. 

  • If you wash your car. Wash your car on the grass or gravel so it will soak into the ground instead of washing down the storm drain.  Instead of leaving the water running while you soap up your car, fill a bucket with soapy water. Use a nozzle with an automatic shutoff so you aren’t wasting water.  Typical garden hoses use 5-10 gallons per minute!
  • Watch the weather. If you don’t have a rain sensor, listen to weather forecasts and turn off your irrigation system if it’s going to rain.

Get ready for fall

  • Adjust your irrigation system. In the fall, plants are transpiring less and need less water.  Make sure you are not overwatering your lawn and plants.
  • Prepare your system for winter. Turn off the water, drain the valves and blow out the excess water in the lines with compressed air.
  • Disconnect your garden hoses. To reduce wear on your garden hoses, drain, roll them up, and store them.

  • Check out your water consumption history. By tracking your water usage you’ll be able to spot unusual changes that may signal a leak or other water wasting problems.

Buckle down for winter

  • Protect your trees. Tree roots are still growing during the winter.  If we are experiencing an extended dry period, consider hand watering your trees once a month.
  • Check your lawn. Warm-season grasses like bermudagrass go dormant during the winter months; however it still needs adequate moisture.  During dry periods you may need to irrigate your lawn to avoid winter kill. If possible irrigate in the morning on a relatively warm day.

Check out these websites:

Squeeze every drop

Simple irrigation plan

Extension fact sheets

Oklahoma Proven

Saving water around the home