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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Gardening > General Gardening & Landscaping

Top Ten Tips for Conserving Water at Home
Efficient watering and common sense saves this precious resource

Experts estimate that Americans use nearly 408 billion gallons of water per day. On average, 50 to 70% of home water is used outdoors for watering lawns and gardens.

That's why the Irrigation Association has named July Smart Irrigation Month. The organization's goal is to raise awareness of the importance of water conservation in the lawn and garden. According to IA, most homeowners are sending their watering dollars down the drain.

Technological advances in home watering systems are making it easier than ever to preserve this resource and save money at the same time. "Smart" watering systems, from computer-assisted programmers to inexpensive drip watering kits, are now available to homeowners.

Here are Toro's top ten things you can do to conserve water right in your own backyard:

1. Put a layer of mulch around your plants. Mulching helps to retain moisture and prevents evaporation. A generous amount of 3- to 5-inches is best.

2. Install a drip irrigation system around your shrubs, hanging baskets, flower and vegetable gardens. Drip irrigation systems use 50% less water than conventional sprinklers. And, they're more efficient because they deliver the water slowly and directly to the plant's root system.

3. Install a home irrigation system with a rain sensor. Many states and local water districts now require rain sensors. Homeowners who have irrigation systems use less water on their lawns and gardens than those who don't. Watering efficiently, and only when your plants and lawn need it can save a great deal of water. Rain sensors interrupt the watering program if it rains, saving even more water.

4. If you already have a home irrigation system, make sure you're getting the most out of your timer. New technology makes it easier than ever to program and monitor your watering needs. Consider upgrading your timer. Automatic, programmable timers save more water than mechanical models.

5. Don't fertilize during hot, dry weather. Applying fertilizer can actually enhance drought problems. When you do feed your lawn and garden use a slow release fertilizer.

6. Raise the blade on your lawn mower. Closely cropped grass requires more water.

7. Recycle your grass clippings back into your lawn by using a mulching mower. You'll not only conserve water, you'll save time while mowing.

8. Cut back on routine pruning. Pruning stimulates new growth, and new growth requires more water. Only prune your plants when it wilts or leaves die out.

9. If you use a hose and portable sprinkler, buy a hose end timer to regulate your watering time.

10. Sweep your sidewalks and driveway rather than hosing them down.

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