STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Adjust Garden Sprinklers to Minimize Runoff & Waste

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
If you don’t water wisely, it is easy to lose more than half of your irrigation to runoff or evaporation. Water is an increasingly expensive and valuable resource—many human, plant, and animal populations depend heavily upon having enough water. As human populations grow, it becomes more and more important that we water with wisdom. Evaluate your yard and eliminate all the features that waste water.

Tips & Tricks
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.

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.

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.

Check for water leaks. Check the numbers on your water meter. Don’t run any water for 15 minutes. Check the numbers again. If they have gone up, you may have a leak in your irrigation system.

Web & Print Resources
Efficient irrigation topics:
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/design/buildingsiting/waterefficiency.htm
www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/backyard/watercon.html
www.wetearth.com.au/content/guiltfreewatering.asp

General water-saving information:
www.epa.gov/WaterSense/water/simple.htm#full
www.h2ouse.org/

Water Sense quiz:
www.epa.gov/WaterSense/quiz/index.htm

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 1 year! Source