Lawn Practices That Save Water

Let’s get straight to the point: There are good ways and bad ways to grow a lawn. At Sunday we’re all about balance, which means cultivating a lush, healthy space for you and your kids and pets to play, without making too big of an eco impact

We’re also all about saving the environment, and saving you money. The good news is that you can do both by using less water!
It’s not sorcery. It just takes a little planning and a conscious effort to grow better. Wondering how to save water on your lawn? Keep reading.

Choose the Right Grass

A little planning at the beginning will save you time, effort, and water in the end. Facing drought or irrigation restrictions? Plant a more drought-tolerant grass species! Find the best one for your climate here.

 

Another option is to simply reduce the total area requiring irrigation, a.k.a., maintain a slightly smaller lawn. Any unused lawn area can be converted into a native garden, filled with plants that are adapted to local climate conditions and thus need less water. Plus, they’re great for pollinators and wildlife!

 

Sunday ProTip: If you decide to plant a native garden, it’s helpful to group your plants by water requirements.

Master Your Mower

Even the most hardy, drought-tolerant grasses will need proper upkeep on your part—and good mowing practices go a long way. Here are some of our top tips for growing a lawn that’s healthy and less reliant on water:

 

  1. Mow high. Tall grass has deeper roots, and deeper roots can tap into water reserves that would be out of reach for weaker root systems.
  2. Follow the ⅓ rule. Mowing regularly but only cutting a small amount at a time (about ⅓ of the height) will prevent grass blades from getting stressed. Stressed grass uses water less efficiently. 
  3. Avoid peak sun. Did you know the smell of freshly cut grass is actually a stress call? If you mow when the sun is strongest (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), your grass will lose more water via transpiration.

Water Wisely

Here’s where things really get interesting! You might be surprised at all the smart ways you can adjust your watering habits.

 

The first thing you’ll want to do every spring is audit your irrigation system: Fix any leaks or broken sprinkler heads, use catch cans to test for uniform distribution, adjust to make sure dry spots are covered (and that low-lying/wet spots aren’t accumulating water), and create zones to accommodate microclimates—i.e., shady and low-lying zones that need less water—so you aren’t over-applying in some areas just to hit your targets for others.

 

You might even consider switching to a “smart” irrigation system, which accounts for recent rainfall/evapotranspiration and soil moisture to use an average of 22–66% less water than calendar-based systems.

 

Sunday ProTip: Many smart irrigation controllers save so much water that they pay for themselves within a single growing season! Check with your state or local water district to see if they offer rebates for switching.

 

Once you have your irrigation sorted out, there are plenty of ways to continue minimizing your water usage throughout the season:

 

  1. Watch the weather! Don’t irrigate when it’s actively raining, when rain is in the forecast, or just after it rains.
  2. Water deeply and infrequently. This will stimulate deeper root growth, and your grass will become less reliant on frequent irrigation.
  3. Don’t water in the middle of the day. During peak sun hours, up to 50% of water can be lost to evaporation and never even make it into the soil. If possible, water between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  4. If you notice dry spots, water them by hand rather than running the entire sprinkler system.
  5. Don’t water to the point of having runoff.
  6. If you’re able to, harvest rainwater with a rain barrel! You’ll want to check local restrictions first and only apply collected water to non-edible landscapes.
  7. Consider secondary/graywater options for lawn irrigation. Great for your lawn, but also not recommended for edible landscapes.
  8. Design a rain garden! These can help reduce runoff and increase water infiltration into the landscape.
  9. Allow your grass to rest, if needed. Dormancy is a defense mechanism against drought and heat stress.

Sunday Ingredients Give You a Leg Up

Did you know that Sunday nutrients are also working hard for the environment? We use friendly powerhouse ingredients like beet juice extract, humic acid, and seaweed in our formulations to help plants cope with drought stress and increase water retention.

Following the steps above will go a long way toward reducing your water usage and, thus, the environmental impact of your lawn. Psst: You can find even more easy eco changes here!

Cited Sources

Bauer, S. Water-saving strategies for home lawns. University of Minnesota Extension. 

Beddes, T. and K. Kopp. How can I keep my landscape looking lovely when there are water restrictions? Utah State University Extension.

Sandor, D.  Water Conservation Practices for Irrigation of Turfgrass Lawns. University of Arkansas Theses and Dissertations.