STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Landscape for Water Efficiency

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
Design your garden in a clever way that minimizes water use. Every plant on Earth has adapted to survive in specific climatic conditions. Outside of home gardens, most plants live without any additional water or care beyond what is offered by the local rain clouds. By looking to the native plants from our region, we can discover a window into water-efficient landscaping. Mimic your natural surroundings, plant natives in your yard, and watch your water bill plummet to zero!

Tips & Tricks
Use native, drought-tolerant plants. Landscape your yard with plants that have low water needs. The best way to do is to go to your nursery and request plants that are native to your region.

Edible landscaping. If you’re spending the time and resources to grow a garden, why not reap the benefits in the form of fresh produce? Grow an attractive vegetable garden as an alternative to strictly ornamental landscaping.

Water when it’s cool. To reduce water lost to evaporation, water only during the cool times of day: early morning is best. Your plants will thank you for it—these are the time when they can best absorb the moisture.

Water wiser. Look for sprinklers that produce droplets rather than mist. Better yet, install a drip-irrigation system. You can also install rain shut-off devices and moisture sensors, so that you’re not watering during a rain.

Don’t over-water. Learn about the water-needs of the plants you have, and don’t give them more than they want. The more mature a plant is, the more tolerant it will be of dry soil.

Web & Print Resources
Efficient landscaping:
www.eere.energy.gov

Efficient irrigation topics:
www.eere.energy.gov
www.nrcs.usda.gov
www.wetearth.com.au

Drought-tolerant plants:
www.backyardgardener.com
www.highcountrygardens.com

General water-saving information:
www.epa.gov
www.h2ouse.org

Water Sense quiz:
www.epa.gov

Fun Facts

50% of water used for irrigating lawns and gardens is wasted due to overwatering and evaporation. Source

Water-efficient irrigation systems help to waste less water, potentially saving more than 11 billion gallons per year across the U.S. This is equal to the amount of water used by 3,200 garden hoses flowing constantly for one year! Source