Did you know that residential outdoor water use across the United States accounts for nearly 9 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation? The average U.S. household uses more water outdoors than for showering and washing clothes combined.
By following some simple steps, you can have a water-smart landscape that's beautiful, healthy, and easy to maintain.
Are you interested in developing a water-smart landscape for your home or property? The WaterSense Water-Smart Landscapes guide can get you started. Choosing the right plants, supporting soil health, and proper maintenance are all keys to water-smart landscapes.
Soil and Site Conditions
Healthy soils cycle nutrients effectively, minimize runoff, retain water, and absorb excess nutrients, sediments, and pollutants. Have your soil tested for nutrient content, pH, soil composition, and organic matter content. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office or state universities for a soil test kit or soil testing services. Very sandy soil, heavy clay, compacted soil, or extreme soil pH may impact which plants are right for your yard. In these cases, seek advice from a nursery, horticulturist, Cooperative Extension, or other expert.
Aerate your soil
Soil can become compacted during home construction or from normal foot traffic. Aerating your soil with a simple lawn aerator can increase the infiltration of water into the ground, improving water flow to the plant's root zone and reducing water runoff.
Use mulch to save water and improve soil health
In addition to making landscapes attractive, mulch adds an extra layer between plant roots and air, helping to protect plants in a variety of ways. Mulch helps reduce evaporation, which allows soil to retain water longer and means plants require less frequent watering. Mulch also helps plants thrive by inhibiting weed growth, preventing soil erosion, and moderating soil temperature.
Use soil amendments where appropriate
Soil amendments can be organic or inorganic. They are mixed into the soil and can provide short-term and long-term water saving benefits. Plants require water in the soil to grow healthy and soil amendments help the soil to retain moisture so that you do not have to irrigate as often.
For more information
For more information visit www.cocoafl.org/conservation. Check out UF/IFAS Extension's Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. The St. Johns River Water Management’s plant guide is also very helpful.