I love green lawns as much most people do, but as one who values water for its scarcity and wants to use it wisely for environmental as well as budgeting reasons, I cringe (and sometimes quietly seethe) at the waste I see nearly everywhere I go in my state. Please don't waste our most precious resource, regardless of where you live!
1. Don't water in the heat of the day! "On a hot, windy day, the amount of water that never reaches your grass can be substantial. To reduce loss to evaporation, water sometime between 4 A.M. and 9 A.M., when the air is still cool and the wind is usually at its calmest." (link) For those who live in particularly hot summer climates (I now fit into this category), the above time suggestion should be moved back a few hours to, say, 2 A.M. to 7 A.M, since it gets so hot so early.
2. Make sure your sprinklers are watering your actual lawn, not the driveway, sidewalk, etc. I know this can be difficult, particularly without an automatic sprinkling system, and I haven't been perfect at it either, but I know a lot of water is wasted when this isn't monitored.
This article teaches you how to figure this out, if you can't consult with a master gardener in your area.
Here are a few more pointers I found interesting in my research:
- Grass that is overwatered will often exhibit some of the same symptoms as grass that needs water. If you notice the symptoms but the soil is damp, hold off on watering.
- While deep watering will help your grass become more drought resistant, watering enough to moisten the soil below the root zone is unnecessary and wasteful, as the grass won't be able to access moisture deeper than its roots.
- Particularly in climates that are mild and wet in winter, consider having a "sleeping lawn." The following statistics may be motivating (I found them quite shocking): "The average lawn size in the U.S. is about 1/5 of an acre, or a little less than 9,000 square feet, and it takes at least 624 gallons of water to apply 1 inch of water on 1,000 square feet of lawn. It thus takes a total of more than 67,000 gallons to apply 1 inch of water per week to an average lawn for three months during one summer. Even if you only halve that amount by allowing your lawn to go dormant, you're still conserving a tremendous amount of water--enough water to supply a family of three's drinking water requirements for 61 years." (link) !!!