Are you doing your share to conserve water?
April 14, 2006
by Molly Johnson
Fence Post Intern
Information for this article provided by CSU Cooperative Extension Service
No one likes seeing a dusty, brown lawn sitting in front of a well-kept house … but if we’re not careful, having a lawn may not be as easy as it has been in the past. More than 50 percent of Colorado water is used for landscaping and lawn use on the Front Range. That’s more than HALF of our water supply being used to keep our lawns green … does this seem a little ridiculous to anyone else??
Every person, on the average, uses 80 to 100 gallons of water PER DAY inside their home, which doesn’t include the water used for lawns, filling pools, washing cars, spraying down driveways, or cleaning siding and gutters.
To put it into perspective, humans are advised to drink eight (12 ounce) glasses of water per day to stay healthy. If we were to drink the same amount of water we use inside our houses each day for laundry, dishes, etc., we would be drinking between 853 to 1,066 (12-ounce) glasses of water every day!
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Tips on how to conserve water in your homes:
Fix leaky faucets. (One leaky faucet can waste up to 2,200 gallons of water per year.)
Control your toilet’s water level by installing a water-saving device, adjusting the water float level or by adding a couple of bricks to the inside of your toilet’s water tank to displace water and conserve extra gallons. Flush less frequently.
Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when full, or adjust the water level for the amount of clothing being washed. Consider using the “short” cycle to decrease the amount of water used to rinse dishes or clothes.
When washing dishes by hand, use the sink stopper to trap rinse water in the sink instead of rinsing the dishes in running water.
When cooking, use the smallest amount of water possible. Don’t rinse and clean vegetables under running water, consider using a sink with trapped water instead. Put a well fitting lid over pans to help keep boiling water from evaporating and to cook the food faster.
When brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face, don’t let the water run.
Don’t let the tap run to get cold water. Instead, store a pitcher of water in the fridge for cold water when desired.
Take shorter showers, less frequently, and consider a flow restrictive or low volume shower head. Turn off water between soaping and rinsing. Allow small children to bathe together, using a smaller amount of water to fill the tub.
Around the house
Use a broom, not a hose, to clean sidewalks, garages and driveways.
Cover swimming pools to reduce evaporation, which allows you to fill the pool less often.
Mow bluegrass, ryegrass, fescue and wheatgrass to a height of 2 to 3 inches. Healthy, high-quality bluegrass or ryegrass lawn may need up to 2.25 inches of water per week under hot, dry, windy summer conditions.
Mow the turf often enough so no more than 1/3 of the grass height is removed at any single mowing. If your mowing height is 2 inches, mow the grass when it is 3 inches tall. You may have to mow a bluegrass or fescue lawn every three to four days during the spring (when it is actively growing) but only once every seven to 10 days when growth is slowed by heat, drought or cold.
Buffalo grass lawns may require mowing once every 10 to 20 days, depending on how much they are watered.
Harden or toughen lawns by watering less frequently but deeply. This encourages deeper root growth, which makes lawns more drought resistant. Some types of grass, like Kentucky bluegrass lawns, also survive drought by going dormant (watering at minimal levels) and thus requiring little water, and surviving into the following summer.
Do not apply all of the water your landscape needs during a short period of time. Water applied too quickly may run off the land and be lost in ditches or gutter systems. Use a soil probe or shovel to determine a lawn’s average root depth. Water the lawn until the soil is moist to that level.
Water lawns overnight between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. when conditions are less windy, cooler and more humid. Evening watering helps reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation. Contrary to popular belief, watering at this time does not encourage diseases to develop in a landscape.
Use lawn sprinklers that deliver large droplets of water instead of a fine mist, which is more easily lost to evaporation and wind.
Water is scarce, so the next time you turn on your hose or tap, think about what you’re using it for.
As Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, says, “We’re all going to have to get used to a little more brown.”
See http://www.Drought.ColoState.edu for more practical tips on conserving water in times of drought and for more practical lawn care tips that help conserve water.