98 Ways to Reduce Water Waste and Boost Efficiency

In today’s world, water conservation is more important than ever. Whether you are a homeowner, landscaper, or property manager, finding effective ways to reduce water usage can significantly impact both the environment and your utility bills. Smart irrigation solutions, sustainable landscaping practices, and simple everyday actions can all contribute to substantial water savings.

This comprehensive guide offers 98 simple and practical tips to help you save water, protect this vital resource, and ensure a sustainable future for future generations. These strategies, from installing rain sensors to utilizing reclaimed water, are designed to meet various needs and help you make the most of every drop.

  1. To improve water conservation, install a rain sensor that turns off your irrigation when it rains.
  2. Use a weather-based controller. Smart controllers can reduce water usage by an average of 24% a year. Installing an ETwater controller eliminates the need for a rain sensor. Find the smartest controller here – https://hydrorain.com/etwater/
  3. Learn about available rebate programs by checking with local or state water agencies. Rebates help offset irrigation investments.
  4. It is important to partner with the right expertise (contractor/water manager) and smart technology to achieve conservation and plant health goals.
  5. Sustainable savings goals are imperative to the success of any water management solution. Don’t proceed without them!
  6. Building managers can save water at properties by analyzing water usage trends and developing a water management plan to ensure irrigation systems operate efficiently.
  7. Use reclaimed water when possible.
  8. Managers should explore installing flowering perennial plants to provide a sustainable and cost-effective replacement for seasonal color changes.
  9. Buildings can implement a rotation schedule for water features, so fewer operate simultaneously, reducing energy costs.
  10. Retrofit the landscape with sustainable, water-efficient landscapes and native or drought-tolerant plants.
  11. Optimize the placement and health of trees around your buildings to increase shade and reduce energy costs.
  12. Naturally, maintain the landscape by using pruning techniques that highlight the individuality of each plant.
  13. When possible, install drip irrigation.
  14. Install pressure regulation devices.
  15. Practicing hydrozoning or grouping plants with similar water requirements on the same irrigation valve to reduce over-watering.
  16. Installing flow meters can help you save thousands of gallons of water annually.
  17. Setting your sprinklers to water just before dawn is ideal because it reduces losses to wind or evaporation.
  18. Adjust sprinklers to avoid waste and ensure uniform distribution.
  19. Test the spray patterns of sprinkler systems, check for clogs and mixed nozzle sizes of sprinkler heads, and be sure to repair leaks.
  20. Use drip irrigation for ornamental shrubs to reduce water use.
  21. Mulch around shrubs and planters to reduce evaporation and cut down on weeds.
  22. Use a broom, rather than a hose, to clean driveways or sidewalks.
  23. Use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle. You can find some great shut-off nozzles here – Orbit Online Products
  24. Retrofitting the landscape with sustainable, water-efficient landscapes and native, drought-tolerant plant materials will reduce the use of natural resources and decrease the maintenance required.
  25. Review your water bills regularly. This is a great way to discover leaks in your system. Or install a ETwater smart controller and you can view the dollar cost of each irrigation after watering is completed. https://hydrorain.com/etwater/
  26. If you have runoff issues with slopes, reduce your run times to allow the water to soak into the soil and increase the number of start times.
  27. Every month, check your irrigation valves for leaks.
  28. Don’t water your lawn on windy days. Too much of the water is blown away.
  29. Know where the master water shut-off valve is located. This way, you can quickly turn off a system if a large leak occurs.
  30. Encourage your school district to promote water conservation at your schools.
  31. Remember to pick a turf mix or blend that matches your site conditions and weather when installing turf.
  32. Talk to your local water agency about drought-tolerant plants. They often have information and pictures of plants for your specific area.
  33. Share these water savings tips with your co-workers.
  34. Save the ice from your to-go restaurant cups and throw the water on your plants.
  35. When you drop ice in the house when filling a glass, don’t throw the ice cube in the sink. Instead, place it in one of your house plants.
  36. When giving your pets fresh water, don’t just throw the old water away. Instead, pour it over some of your plants.
  37. Consider aerating your lawn once a year to help prevent water runoff.
  38. Give your dog a bath on the lawn or other areas where the extra water will be useful, such as watering trees, plants, or shrubs.
  39. Be sure to water your plants only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from underwatering.
  40. Plant a tree in your yard for shade.
  41. Watch the weather and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  42. Use a rain gauge to see how much rain fell in your area and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  43. Consider using rain barrels.
  44. Adding a 2-inch layer of ground cover mulch to planter beds is an excellent way to conserve water.
  45. Good news: age matters. Mature plants and trees with deep root systems can be watered less frequently.
  46. Many times, it’s better to water dry spots in your yard instead of the entire lawn.
  47. Shower with a bucket and use the water you collect to water your house plants.
  48. Learn the water requirements of your plants.
  49. Landscapes are most overwatered in the fall when your timer is still set for summer. Get out there and make those adjustments today.
  50. If your irrigation controller doesn’t have a cycle and soak feature, spend a little extra time programming multiple short cycles to avoid runoff.
  51. Inspect what you expect. Record the numbers on your water meter weekly to document your water use. It just takes a small pad of paper and a pencil. As an added bonus, your neighbors will wonder what you are doing. If one is bold enough to ask, you will be able to spread the water savings news to them, too.
  52. Winter is coming soon! Be sure to use a cover for your pool. It will save you water and energy.
  53. You can purchase great retrofit kits to convert your sprays to drip lines. This is very effective in shrub and color beds. It’s not very expensive and is a job for the do-it-yourselfer.
  54. Did you know soil amendments can improve landscape water efficiency? They can help stimulate deep-root growth and, over time, reduce the amount of water needed.
  55. The weather is about to change. Are you adjusting your water accordingly? Pay attention to the changes and adjust your watering accordingly.
  56. If you need help determining how much to water, search the web and see how many sites are available for ET information. Many will make watering recommendations specific to your location. Here is a link to a great one – https://hydrorain.com/calculator/
  57. Please support community water reclamation projects.
  58. Install a filter in your irrigation system. Many times, watering efficiency is reduced due to clogs from small grains of sand or scale. A filter will help reduce this problem and keep your system’s efficiency higher.
  59. Keep your mower blades sharp. A dull blade makes the turf more disease-prone, which means you will apply too much water. Sharpening your blades 4 -6 times a year is the norm. When was the last time you sharpened your blade?
  60. Cut at most 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow. Mowing too low restricts root growth. We want good root growth so the turf can water deeper in the soil.
  61. Look for spots in your landscape that are greener or seem to be extra wet all the time. Small leaks below the soil are a huge water waste. These are easy to spot and, most of the time, easy to fix. You just can’t be afraid of a bit of digging.
  62. If you observe misting, turn down the flow control on your valve. Most people think of the valve as just an on-off switch. If you have misting when your irrigation is running, you can turn the valve down and visually observe the reduction in misting. Adjust the valve and see when the irrigation is operating most efficiently.
  63. Consider the wind when you water. If you are experiencing moderate to heavy winds consider waiting a day to water. This way, you can ensure most of the water hits your landscape where you want it.
  64. Shade is very cool in your garden. Cooler temperatures mean less water evaporation from the soil and less water use in the garden. Be sure you have plenty of shade for your landscape.
  65. Avoid heavy pruning. Pruning stimulates growth, and your plants require more water. Think about pruning your plants in winter or before the season gets warm and dry.
  66. Can you use a downspout in your garden? Many gardens have downspouts draining to areas other than landscaped areas. This could be an excellent source of direct water for a portion of your garden.
  67. Have your soil tested. Your local agricultural extension office can do this for you and make a few recommendations on how to improve it. Healthy soil allows water to penetrate the root zone easily.
  68. Good soil has organic matter that helps hold water in the soil.
  69. Go ahead and buy the one-gallon plant instead of the five-gallon. Go small and still be a big winner on both the plant’s cost (it will catch up to the five-gallon pretty fast) and water’s cost.
  70. Remember that using low-water plants on the south or west sides of buildings is one of the best ways to save water by design.
  71. Please don’t leave your garden hose unattended. A deep watering is good, but sometimes, we forget we are watering when we walk away from the hose.
  72. Monitor your water bill. Some parts of the country allow consumers to see their water use online daily. Suppose you can do this, great. You will be able to spot leaks faster. If you can’t see your use daily, please check monthly, and know that big jumps in water use are most often due to breaks or leaks.
  73. Commit to one water-saving idea a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but over time, everyone will benefit from your work and water savings.
  74. Use a soil probe to understand how well your system is watering. This is an easy way to quickly see how much water your landscape needs and, if you are watering too much—the health of your root zone and your soil structure.
  75. When you mow, leave the clippings. Your turf is full of water and can also help you reduce fertilizer needs by 25 – 50%.
  76. You can tell when your turf needs water by just walking on it. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  77. When you build your patio or walkway, be sure to use porous material. This way, rain will soak into the ground instead of running off or draining away from your property.
  78. Have you considered you might have microclimates in your yard? Believe it or not, you don’t have to own an estate to have a microclimate. Plants in shade all day are in their microclimate, as well as plants on the north side of buildings or in the shade of sheds. Be sure to examine your property for microclimates and adjust accordingly.
  79. Get ready to plant. The best time to plant a new landscape bed is late fall or early spring. The soil is usually easier to work with now, and more importantly, your plants will have time to put down roots before the heat of summer.
  80. Water your new plants thoroughly a couple of days before planting them. This will keep their roots moist and prevent stress.
  81. Inspect the root balls before you plant them. If the roots are overgrown, feel free to prune back the twisted ones so they get a good start. This way, your roots will have the best chance to penetrate deep into the soil, saving water in the future.
  82. Rainwater harvesting is beginning to catch on. Manual watering, including a hose bib at the bottom of the rain barrel, is a typical small system solution.
  83. Larger rainwater harvesting systems can use a storage tank or cistern connected to a gravity-fed drip system, distributing water to many plants. These typically turn on and off manually.
  84. The larger rainwater systems are designed with automatic timers and pumps. These can distribute water to large areas, but they almost always require a professional designer and installer.
  85. Greywater should be used at the time of collection.
  86. Greywater systems are more affordable during new construction. If you are building now or planning to build soon, consider incorporating greywater into your irrigation plan.
  87. Establish a water budget or hire someone to do this for you. This creates a standard water use to measure against and helps us plan our irrigation schedule.
  88. When hiring someone to manage your landscape, inquire about their knowledge of water management and request examples of jobs where they have demonstrated creating efficiencies.
  89. Installing wind sensors interrupts watering during significant wind when most of the water is blown away.
  90. Consider prevailing winds when designing your system. Irrigation spacing needs to be more conservative when facing prevailing winds.
  91. Check with your local water agency to see if you can irrigate with an alternate source of water. Reclaimed water is becoming increasingly available.
  92. Take time to educate yourself about smart water practices. Classes are offered at community colleges and local water agencies. The world of water is fascinating, and these classes are eye-opening.
  93. The best irrigation management practices are designed with your local environment in mind and can be found at your local water agency or cooperative extension office.
  94. Visit the Irrigation Association website for best management practices for irrigation.
  95. Consider using non-potable water in waterfalls, fountains, and ponds.
  96. In many areas, legislation mandates water conservation. Check with your local water agencies to learn what the legislation means. Please write to your lawmakers and see where they stand on water. Water will be one of the critical legislative points in the next few years.
  97. Remember, on average, water rates will increase 10% a year across the United States. Your changes today will create significant savings over the next five years.
  98. Influence, encourage, and motivate others to save water. We need to lead the change, and we can do it together. Call it a water revolution or out-of-the-box thinking—I like to think of it as our professional responsibility to the industry to lead the change. It is about doing what is right for the future. Join me, accept the challenge, and let’s spread the word to other water users.

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