There have been widely reported studies that relate how much water is required to irrigate America’s lawns. However, those studies can be based on a relatively small geographic region that does not receive regular rainfall during the active growing season and requires homeowners to provide supplemental irrigation to maintain their lawn. Typically, in lawns east of the Mississippi River, there is usually enough rainfall throughout the growing season to maintain the lawns without additional irrigation. On occasion droughts in specific geographic areas will require homeowners to use supplemental watering, but this the exception.
Regardless of geographic location – Lawn Care is a Big Drain on Water Resources
For some, the American dream is to live in a big house with an emerald green lawn in front and a shimmering pool out back. From a water conservation standpoint, this picture is more like a nightmare!
Maintaining a green lawn can be a massive drain of water. Irrigating a 1,000 square foot lawn with just a half an inch of water takes about 330 gallons!
In dry regions like the American Southwest, people who want green grass have to water a lot because there’s not much rainfall. On top of that, temperatures get hot, so evaporation happens quickly, before most of the water is absorbed. In such arid places, lawn care accounts for about one-half of household water use. That’s a serious concern considering that the region’s primary water sources, like the Colorado River and Sierra Nevada Mountains, are drying up due to overuse and drought.
Residents of the Southwest aren’t alone, though. Many of us across the nation water our lawns during dry spells and droughts, even though it puts additional burden on our already strained water supplies. In fact, residential water use in the US peaks during the summertime, mainly because of watering the lawn.
No matter where you live, it’s important to think about water conservation when you’re taking care of your yard. A well-managed yard not only uses less water, it can also significantly cut down on downstream water pollution from using too much fertilizer and pesticides.
A great way to think beyond grass when you landscape is to plant more native species that flourish in your local climate.