The key to proper outdoor watering is to apply only the amount of water needed at the best time using the best methods possible. This will also help you conserve outdoor water use. Conserving outdoor water use can reduce the potential for pollution to water resources and drinking water wells.
- Established lawns need one inch of water per week, including rainfall. And if you must water, water just once a week for a deep soaking. Frequent watering can weaken plants.
- Use a rain gauge to measure weekly rainfall and apply only the amount of supplemental water needed.
- Adjust sprinklers so that they don’t water paved surfaces. In the event that it’s unavoidable, direct the flow of water toward your lawn or garden.
- Check the weather forecast – no need to water if it’s going to rain. If you have automatic sprinklers, be sure they aren’t programmed to come on in the rain.
- Don’t water in the heat of the day. Water early in the morning or in the evening.
- Use slow-watering techniques such as drip irrigation or soakerhoses. Water is applied at or near the plant roots where it is needed most.
A rain gauge can be an important tool in your outdoor water conservation tool box!
Other important tips:
- Plant drought tolerant and/or native plants.
- During a serious, prolonged drought consider allowing lawns to go naturally dormant, because watering can actually stress the grass more by forcing it to grow under such adverse conditions. View our Healthy Lawn Care page for more information on maintaining an attractive lawn with minimal inputs.
- Use rain barrels or cisterns to collect and store rainwater.
- Use mulch to conserve soil moisture in beds and gardens. Increase soil organic matter (and soil moisture holding capacity) through mulching and adding compost or other organic soil amendments.
Download a Printable Factsheet:
For more information about proper irrigation and drought tolerant plants
Drip Irrigation for the Home Garden
Rain Barrels and Cisterns
Water Conservation In and Around the Home
URI Master Gardener Program Hotline: 1 (800) 448-1011