Outdoor Water Use Conservation

Most Californians think that they use more water indoors than outdoors. Typically, the opposite is true. In some areas, 50% or more of the water we use daily goes on lawns and outdoor landscaping. There are lots of ways to save water at home, but reducing the water you use outdoors can make the biggest difference of all. Listed below are a few easy ways to change the way you use water outside your home.

Know the Basics


  • Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler (save 25 gallons each time you water).
  • Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street (save 12 to 15 gallons each time you water).
  • Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers (save 15 gallons each time you water). How to prevent runoff from outdoor irrigation
  • Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds (save 20 to 30 gallons each time you water every 1,000 square foot).
  • Plant drought-resistant trees and plants (save 30 to 60 gallons each time you water every 1,000 square foot).

Don’t Overwater


One easy way to cut down how much water you use outdoors is to learn how much water your landscaping actually needs in order to thrive. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make.

Get Smart


If you really want to be a sophisticated water user, invest in a weather-based irrigation controller, or a smart controller. These devices will automatically adjust the watering time and frequency based on soil moisture, rain, wind, and evaporation and transpiration rates. Check with your local water agency to see if there is a rebate available for the purchase of a smart controller.

Know Your Climate


One way to save water outdoors is to plant the right plants for your climate. Explore the Save Our Water Water-Wise Garden Tool (PDF) to learn what plants and flowers will flourish in your neighborhood.

Outdoor Cleanup


Water is often a go-to tool for outdoor clean-up jobs. Conserve water by following these simple steps:
  • Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks, and patios (save 8 to 18 gallons per minute).
  • Wash cars / boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle (save 8 to 18 gallons per minute).
  • Invest in a water broom. If you have to use water to clean up outside, a water broom will attach to your hose but uses a combination of air and water pressure to aid cleaning. Water brooms can use as little as 2.8 gallons per minute to remove dirt, food spills, leaves, and litter from concrete and asphalt while a standard hose typically uses 5 to 20 gallons per minute.
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Additional Information
For more information on water-wise sprinklers, visit the Save Our Water: Sprinklers 101 website.