According to the Environmental Protection Agency, residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for nearly 8 billion gallons of water each day. The average U.S. household uses more water outdoors than for showering and clothes washing combined. Below are some resources to help you irrigate efficiently.
Switch to Drip
Sprinkler systems and hand watering are only 50-70 percent efficient, whereas, drip irrigation exceeds 90 percent efficiency. Drip irrigation is more efficient because water drips into the ground slowly from plastic tubing through special outlets called emitters and moves directly to the root zone.
UC Master Gardeners of Sonoma County have resources on how to install and manage a drip irrigation system.
Check with your water provider to see if rebates are available to help cover the cost of upgrading to a more efficient irrigation systems or install a weather-based irrigation controller which creates an irrigation schedule based on local weather.
The Irrigation Scheduling Tool is designed to help you create an irrigation schedule customized to your location. The Tool pulls data from local weather stations on a daily basis to give you an accurate measurement of how much water your plants need.
As the seasons change, so do the water needs of your yard. Remember to adjust your irrigation controller throughout the year so that you cut down on water waste and your plants can stay healthy. If your irrigation controller has a seasonal adjustment option, check out this guide from the UC Master Gardeners of Sonoma County.
The Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) program is an EPA WaterSense labeled professional certification in irrigation system audits. QWEL Pros have been trained in efficient irrigation principles and sustainable landscaping practices.
The Water Smart Gardens Maintenance Manual is a step-by-step guide on how and why to maintain a low water use landscape. The manual also features a maintenance calendar that illustrates when seasonally important tasks like weeding, pruning and adjustments to irrigation scheduling should occur.