The heat during the summer can be rough on lawns and landscaping, but there are several steps you can take to keep your yard looking nice without wasting water or breaking the bank. Responsible watering methods will help protect your investment, save money on your water bill and help preserve a precious commodity. The best time to water is early morning when evaporation loss and the impact of the wind are lowest. You can also water in the evenings. However, this keeps leaves and grass wet for hours, making them more susceptible to fungal diseases.
The best plants and grasses to buy are those native to the Mid-Atlantic Region, as they grow best in the climate, require less water and are more sustainable. Visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension website at www.ext.vt.edu for more information on native plants. Organic mulches, such as aged manure, compost, bark or woodchips, can help retain moisture and minimize evaporation. An average lawn needs only one inch of water a week; too much water is more harmful than helpful. Over-watering your grass can drown the roots, causing them to rot. Thatch and aerate your lawn for better water filtration. Overwatering plants can also be detrimental.
When purchasing an automatic sprinkler, install a timer on the faucet. Carefully position your sprinkler, so it does not water the sidewalk, driveway or street. Money can also be saved on your utility bill when rainwater is used for landscaping instead of drinking (potable) water. One way to do this is to position your downspout so it drains onto the lawn and garden areas rather than sidewalks or the driveway. Rain barrels can also be installed at the ends of or near downspouts to collect rainwater runoff from your roof, which can be used to water your lawn and garden.
You can find more water conservation tips at https://utilities.staffordcountyva.gov. If you have questions, please call the Utilities Department at (540) 658-8616.