University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Water Conservation

Conserving Water in the Home Landscape

Water has become a limiting factor in many communities, especially during hot, dry spells. Landscaping to minimize watering - carried out as part of a "conservation landscaping "approach - includes careful planning, using drought-resistant plant varieties, and improving soils or using mulches to help retain moisture in the soil.

To see how your management approaches help to reduce water use around the yard, go to the 10 Steps You Can Take to Have a Water-Wise Lawn and Garden flyer.

Conservation landscaping promotes landscape management techniques and philosophies that work with nature to not only minimize water use, but also reduce pollution and encourage wildlife habitat. The results are less overall maintenance as well as less water use in the landscape.

A primary area of water use in the landscape is the lawn. Choose grass species that require less water during the growing season. Grasses that provide good persistence and quality with less water than Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass include: turf-type tall fescues, dwarf tall fescues and fine-leaf fescues (creeping red, chewings, sheep, and hard). If you do choose to water your lawn, it should be done infrequently. When watering, make sure you apply enough water so that it soaks deeply into the soil. This will help the lawn plants send their roots deep into the ground where there will be more water.

Water needs for trees, shrubs and perennial and annual flowers can be minimized by selecting varieties of native or non-invasive non-native plants that are adaptable to dry landscapes. Sedums and potentilias are good flowers to select for dry areas along with some of the ornamental grasses and herbs.

Create a layer of organic mulch in the various planting beds around the property to reduce water needs. By shredding leaves with your lawn mower that are left over from the previous growing season you can return them to the beds at a depth of 1 - 2". Another approach is the use shredded bark mulch or wood chips to mulch the planting areas. The mulch will help conserve loss of soil moisture as well as moderate soil temperature changes and keep weeds under control.