Water-Saving Ways To Keep Your Bill Low

Dry, hot summers are a fact of life around here. But maintaining a healthy landscape while reducing your water use is easier than you think. Here are a few ways to do that.

The hot, dry weather isn’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. After all, this is South Texas and drought is a fact of life.

As the summer heat lingers on, the best thing to do is focus on maintaining a healthy landscape while reducing water use.

That task is easier than you think, especially since SAWS uses an eight-tier pricing structure to encourage water conservation. That means you save money quickly with small reductions in water use. It also means the more water you use, the higher per-gallon cost you’ll pay.

But let’s focus on using less water. Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Water according to the Garden Geek’s weekly recommendations. These are determined by combining science with years of experience.
  • Reduce sprinkling or irrigation run times in shaded areas. Shady areas require only 50-60 percent of the water sunny areas need.
  • If you have an in-ground irrigation system, switch it from automatic to manual. This allows you to water only when absolutely necessary. Remember that over-watering leads to fungi such as brown patch or grey leaf spot disease.
  • Run your system briefly during the day — within permitted hours, of course — to find leaks and inefficiencies. Need a hand? Call 704-SAVE for a free irrigation consultation to help you find those leaks and check your run times.
  • Apply 1-2 inches of mulch to beds. Mulch reduces moisture loss and soil temperature so roots can grow and find water.
  • Use wetting agents to increase water infiltration. Wetting agents can be as simple as compost leachate or a 2-liter soda with a little dish soap mixed together with water in a 5-gallon bucket.
  • Reduce lawn area. Grass uses the most water in the landscape. Limit the lawn, lower your water bill. It’s that simple.
  • Reduce sprays, rotors and sprinklers. Anytime water is sprayed upward it’s lost to evaporation. Consider drip irrigation, which can reduce water usage when properly designed and installed.
  • Don’t water established native plants and trees; they don’t need supplemental water to survive.

Above all, with regards to turf, brown does not necessarily mean dead, just dormant. All it takes is a little precipitation and the grass greens-up again.

Of course, if you decide it’s time to give up the grass, Garden Style San Antonio has no shortage of ideas for what to put in its place.

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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