By: Paul Deinkin (Dad Knows DIY)
According to the EPA, over 9 billion gallons of water are used each day by Americans to water their lawns. Out of which, 50% is wasted due to ineffective irrigation techniques. Wasting such large amounts of water is detrimental to the environment and can also increase your utility bills. To overcome this issue, it is important to make changes to your lawn aimed towards following proper water conservation techniques.
A combination of landscaping and irrigation changes is needed to transform your lawn into an eco-friendly one.
Buy Drought-Resistant Plants
As the name suggests, these plants can survive for long periods without water. The watering needs for such plants vary between once or twice a week. In addition to reducing your water consumption, these plants beautify your lawn as well. Plants such as verbena, lavender, Agastache, and more add amazing vibrancy to your lawn and are sure to catch the attention of anyone passing by your home.
Plant a Tree or Two
Planting a tree in your lawn will reduce your year-round water consumption requirements by 30-50%, compared to having turf grass, according to the Center for Landscape & Urban Horticulture. Additionally, tree roots help restrict water runoff and protect surrounding soil from erosion.
Furthermore, through a process called evapotranspiration, water absorbed by tree roots evaporates through their leaves. This leads to a reduction in the temperature of the surrounding area by 2° to 9° Fahrenheit, resulting in your house feeling naturally cooler and reducing electricity consumption.
Add Mulch to Your Lawn
Mulch is a simple addition to your lawn that provides various benefits to your plants and trees. Adding a few inches of mulch will reduce water loss from the soil surface, maintain appropriate soil moisture and improve the health of your plants. Additionally, it prevents weed growth and reduces erosion and compaction.
Install Rain Gutter Catch Basins
While you might already have rain gutters on your roof, those will direct water to the drainage. Instead of wasting useful rainwater, add a catch basin, which is either an underground or wall-mounted tank in your lawn and channel water to it. Attach a hose to the tank and use this water for irrigation or washing vehicles or equipment after use.
Invest in an Irrigation System
Depending on the size of your lawn, invest in the appropriate irrigation system, which can include drip irrigation or sprinklers. While these require an investment, in the long run, you will save on water consumption and money. Drip irrigation systems are the most efficient, using only 1-4 gallons of water per hour and directly supplying water to the plants’ roots. This prevents water wastage and runoff.
For big lawns, sprinklers are an effective addition as they can water larger areas with less water compared to hand watering. Additionally, you can set timers for when to water your plants. Watering in the morning is ideal to reduce loss due to evaporation.
While these additions are useful, keep in mind that developing your eco-friendly lawn can be expensive. However, adding water conservation features to your home can make you eligible for the FHA's Energy Efficient Mortgage program. Whether you are buying a new home on a mortgage or refinancing your existing one, you can add the cost of the conservation features you’ve added to your mortgage amount at no extra cost. For example, if you have been approved for a mortgage of $100,000 and you identify water conservation additions worth $5,000 (such as the irrigation system) for your home, your mortgage could be increased to $105,000 while your down payment amount remains the same. Additionally, the Energy Efficient Mortgage program increases your mortgage tax-deduction benefit while removing the need to apply for a second loan or mortgage.
By following the steps mentioned above, you will be able to significantly reduce your daily water consumption, leading to a reduction in your utility bills. Additionally, you will also reap other benefits such as an aesthetic lawn and cooler temperatures inside your home.
For more sustainability tips and resources, explore Greening Your Life and download the book today!
Paul Denikin got into DIY home repair projects after his daughter, Maggie, was born with special needs. He learned everything he knows through trial and error and many helpful Youtube videos. He created Dad Knows DIY to share some of the great resources he’s come across and to offer home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information.