How Much Water Do You Use?

It has been found that the average California home uses 384 gallons of water daily, indoors and out. The average apartment or condominium uses 256 gallons daily. And a single individual uses about 150 gallons a day, including outdoor watering.

Conservation is an effort we can practice every day. With just a little adjustment to your normal activities, like shorter showers or turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, you can save water and money.

Irrigation Checklist

Almost 50% of our water supply isn’t used in the home.  It’s used to irrigate our lawns and plants. Installing smart sprinklers and following the designated watering days are just a few of the ways you can help reduce the amount of drinking water we use on irrigation.  See below for a few ways to help cut down on outdoor watering.

  • Replace high-water-using trees and plants with California-friendly plants that require about two-thirds less water to thrive than non-native plants. (Note: make the transition to California-friendly plants in non-drought years, as even drought-resistant plantings take extra water to get them going.) Long term, this can save you 750 to 1,500 gallons a month.
  • Remind your children not to play with the garden hose. You can save 10 gallons a minute.
  • Allow children to play in the sprinklers only when you’re watering the yard.
  • Step on your grass. If it springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water. Water your lawn only when it needs it. Set your sprinklers for more days in between watering. You can save 750 to 1,500 gallons a month.
  • Adjust your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden where it belongs — and only there. You can save 500 gallons a month.
  • Set lawn mower blades one notch higher. Longer grass means less evaporation. You can save 500 to 1,500 gallons each month.
  • Put a layer of mulch, peat moss, or gravel around trees and plants to slow down evaporation. You can save 750 to 1,500 gallons a month.
  • Adjust or deactivate automatic sprinklers when it’s cool, overcast, or when it’s raining. This could save up to 300 gallons each time.
  • Upgrade to weather-smart irrigation controllers for your sprinkler system. They self-adjust the amount and timing of watering depending on the weather so you don’t have to!
  • Don’t overwater. Too much water can harm plants – as much if not more than inadequate water.
  • Don’t water the lawn on windy days. Watering in windy conditions can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering.
  • Water during the cool parts of the day. Early morning is better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. You can save 300 gallons a month.

Outside the Home

  • Water your plants in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
  • Use multiple start times or a “cycle and soak” feature. This allows water to be applied a little at a time, eliminating run-off, and is especially helpful for sloped areas and areas with clay soil.
  • Aim before you shoot. Direct sprinklers toward your lawn and away from sidewalks and driveways.
  • Water your plants 1 to 2 days a week instead of 5 days a week. Saves up to 840 gallons per week.
  • Check your sprinkler system for leaks, overspray, and broken sprinkler heads and repair these promptly. Saves up to 500 gallons per month.
  • Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  • Spreading a layer of organic mulch or slow release fertilizer around plants retains moisture and saves water, time, and money while promoting a healthy and drought-tolerant landscape.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
  • If water runs off your plants easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
  • Rather than following a set watering schedule, check the root zone of your plants for moisture using a spade or trowel before watering. If it’s still moist two inches under the soil surface, you have enough water. If the top two to three inches of soil is dry, it’s time to water.
  • Adjust sprinklers so only your plants are watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Collect water from your roof to water your garden.
  • Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining.
  • Use drip irrigation for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots where it’s needed.
  • Don’t water your plants on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
  • Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
  • Consider hydrozoning. It is the practice of clustering plants with similar water requirements  into their own zones.  Plants with different watering needs will be in different zones. This allows for you to consider not only the different water needs of plants, but also differences in sunny and shaded areas.
  • Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get unexpected rain.
  • Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons a minute.
  • Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low-water-use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.
  • Consult with your local nursery for information on plant selection and placement for optimum outdoor water savings.
  • Direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems toward water-loving plants in the landscape for automatic water savings.
  • Use a hose nozzle while you wash your car. You’ll save up to 100 gallons every time.
  • Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller water drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
  • Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
  • Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.
  • Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
  • Lawns typically need 1-1.5 inches of water per week.  To see if you might be overwatering, catch water in an empty tuna can to measure the sprinkler output. If the tuna can catches more than 1-1.5 of water, adjust your sprinklers accordingly.  One inch of water on one-square-foot of grass equals two-thirds of a gallon of water.