Especially for home owners who have automatic sprinkler systems, it's easy to forget that regular summer watering uses a tremendous amount of water and can contribute to higher than necessary water bills.

Consider these easy tips for saving money and water when caring for your lawn:

  1. Water only when your lawn needs it. The rule of thumb is that a lawn needs one inch of water per week. If you walk across your lawn and leave footprints, it's time to water. Or you can use a screwdriver as a probe to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don't water.
  2. Water during the coolest parts of the day. Mornings are best to prevent fungus growth and minimize evaporation.
  3. Water slowly and deeply to avoid runoff and allow for better absorption. This will help your lawn's roots learn to grow down into the soil, improving their strength and health. It will also prevent evaporation.
  4. Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
  5. Consider using a soaker hose, which waters closer to the ground and plant roots and reduces evaporation.
  6. Double check that your sprinkler heads aren't spraying onto your sidewalk or driveway. It's easy for a sprinkler head to get knocked loose or jolted by lawnmowers or summer recreation lawn activities.
  7. Check for and fix leaks and replace broken heads, which can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
  8. Install a rain-shutoff device, soil moisture sensor, or humidity sensor in your sprinkler system to avoid watering when it's not needed.
  9. Check your sprinkler system's water pressure and use a flow and pressure gauge, which can save hundreds of gallons of water.
  10. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants, which will help keep the soil moist and prevent evaporation.
  11. Set your lawnmower blades one notch higher, which keeps the grass blades longer, provides shade to the roots, prevents greater evaporation, and inhibits weed growth. While you are at it, if you are in need of a new lawnmower consider one that is battery powered or is manual.  They are quieter, cheaper to run, prevents hauling and storing gasoline, and creates no emissions.  
  12. If an area needs a little extra water, don't run your sprinkler system longer. Try watering that section by hand.

While these tips will help you save money and water, it's also important to know your local municipality's watering restrictions. Many municipality Web sites also include other helpful information and tips.