Outdoor Water Saving Tips
If you water your yard regularly make sure you know your days. Go to the Tampa Bay area watering restrictions zipcode lookup to find out when it’s okay to water.
If you have an irrigation system, make sure you water only on your designated days. Consider skipping an irrigation cycle, by turning the system off, when it rains or has rained. Depending on the size of your yard you can save between 1500 and 2500 gallons of water each time you do this.
Conduct a visual inspection of your irrigation system by turning the system on to each zone for less than 5 minutes and visually looking for broken or misdirected heads. Correct these problems and water your landscape only.
Make sure that irrigation heads are not blocked by grass or shrubs. This is a common cause of dry areas in the landscape.
Make sure your landscape beds have at least 3 inches of organic mulch around each plant but not touching the plant trunk. Mulch cools the plant roots and helps retain moisture.
Use a hose nozzle when hand watering, it saves water by keeping the water from running constantly.
Never mix rotor heads (they move in partial or full circles) with spray heads (they don’t move and generally water smaller areas). Spray heads generally apply 2 to 4 times more water per square foot than rotors.
Not sure how long to water your landscape with your automatic irrigation system? Generally, rotor zones should be set to at least 45 minutes to an hour (1/2 to 3/4 inch per application). Spray zones are generally set between 20 and 30 minutes.
Landscape plants should generally be on different irrigation zones than grass. Generally, you can bypass watering landscape plants frequently and can save 100’s of gallons each time you water.
If it rains at least ½ inch on or just before your watering day, skip your day.
Mow your grass on the highest setting possible (3 to 4 inches) and never mow more than 1/3 of the grass height. This helps to increase plant root depth and make it more tolerant to dry conditions.
UF IFAS explains the proper way to cut your grass “One season’s worth of grass clippings left on the lawn is equivalent to one application of fertilizer.”
Have a dry spot in your yard? Put a tuna or flat-sided can there before you sprinkle. If the amount of water in the can is low adjust the sprinkler heads to water there OR consider establishing a drought tolerant plant in that location.
Make sure your rain shut off device works and is set correctly. This device is generally located near the side of the house close to the irrigation controller. When you are testing your irrigation system, make sure the device is set to ½ inch or less, pour water into the device and see if the irrigation system goes off. If it doesn’t, consider installing a new device or replace it with a soil-moisture sensor. Soil-moisture sensors are more reliable than rain shutoff devices for longer periods.
If you are sprucing up your yard this spring, consider deferring planting of trees until water supplies have increased and plants can get watered by nature. If you want to plant everything now, consider taking a Florida Friendly Landscape workshop or Rainwater harvesting workshop at your local extension office.
If your yard has large shaded areas, consider skipping an irrigation cycle in those areas.
If you are going to fertilize your yard, use a fertilizer with slow release nitrogen and generally use a blended fertilizer such as 16-4-8 (16 parts nitrogen, 4 parts Phosphorous, and 8 parts of Potassium). Use of excessive nitrogen will increase plant growth which increases water needs and also creates a number of other cultural problems. For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Office.
If you use reclaimed water on your yard, don’t over irrigate. Most plant problems are caused by over watering.
Hold off on installing or requiring new sod, trees or plants until the summer rainy season.
Contact your local water supply agency to find out types of programs offered that will help you increase your efficiency of use.
Need your irrigation system tuned up? Make sure the contractor is a certified member of the Florida Irrigation Society. Go to www.fisstate.org for more information.
If you are in an area with reclaimed water available now is the time to consider hooking up.Contact your local water utility for more information.
Instead of washing your car at home, use a commercial car wash that recycles water. Commercial car washes also help protect water quality because soap and other chemicals are properly disposed of and not left to run into the storm drain system.
Use a broom or leaf blower to clean debris off driveways, pathways and sidewalks instead of using a hose.
Install covers on pools and spas to avoid evaporation.
Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
Water only when necessary. Use visual clues to determine when your grass needs watering, such as: 1) When you walk on the lawn, footprints appear briefly because the bent blades don’t spring back for several minutes, 2) grass blades appear blue-gray in color, or 3) grass blades are folded in half lengthwise on at least one-third of your lawn.
Indoor Water Saving Tips
If your toilet is an older model, place a toilet dam in the tank, this will make the tank smaller and will save 1-2 gallons of water each time you flush. This easy fix can save you hundreds of gallons per person, each year. Even better, purchase an EPA WaterSense labeled toilet.
Fix your leaky toilet. Leaking toilets waste up to 200 gallons a day, and most leaks can be fixed by replacing the toilet flapper.
Toilet flappers seal water into the tank and allow water to exit the tank when you flush. They deteriorate over time and should be checked every year to make sure they fit the tank properly. For more information on how to detect toilet flapper leaks, visit www.toiletflapper.org.
Tampa Bay Water guides you through a detailed tutorial demonstrating how to fix a flapper leak.
When waiting for water to heat up from your tap, whether the shower or a sink, collect it to use around the house.
If you find yourself running the tap waiting for the water to heat up, try insulating your hot water pipes to help it heat faster.
Rather than defrosting frozen foods under running hot water, either defrost overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
Replace or adjust your toilet handle if it frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly.
Instead of running the tap for a cool drink of water, fill a pitcher with water and keep it in the fridge for a cold drink any time.
Wash your fruits and vegetables in a small pan of water instead of washing them under running water.
Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover household leaks.
When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants, rather than just throwing it down the drain.
Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
Take shorter showers. When taking a shower or washing your hair, turn water on to get wet; turn it off before lathering; then turn water back on to rinse off. Consider buying an EPA WaterSense labeled shower head.
Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when full. Scrape, but don’t rinse dishes before loading them into the washer.
Garbage disposals require a lot of water and energy. Compost kitchen food waste instead and use it to feed outdoor plant beds.
Don’t let the water run when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face. Run the tap only when necessary to rinse.
Don’t flush needless debris down the toilet to avoid unnecessary flushing and water use. Dispose of tissues, insects, medicines and other small wastes in the trash.
Make a soup with water used to cook or steam foods. It will add extra flavor and save water!
Don’t bathe your pets if they aren’t dirty, unless required to maintain health. For big dogs, bathe with a hose on a dry area of the lawn to water it at the same time. For smaller dogs and animals, wash them in the water your children just bathed in.
When giving your pet fresh water, don’t pour the old water down the drain, use it to water plants indoors or out.
Re-use towels rather than using a new one each time you shower. This will save water used for laundry.
When washing your hands, turn off the faucet while you lather.
Choose to shower over taking a bath. Bathes generally use up to 70 gallons of water per use.
Check all faucets and pipes indoors and out for leaks and fix them if necessary. Fixing leaks can save you more than 10 percent on your water bill.
If possible, replace toilets, washers and faucets with new, WaterSense labeled products to save water and money.
Decline free water at restaurants if you do not plan to drink it.
Consider low-flow water use to increase indoor water savings.