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Outdoor Water Saving Tips

Outdoor water use accounts for 70 percent of customer water usage. With a few simple adjustments, you can reduce your bi-monthly water bill, save energy and help California repair our waterways.

Outdoor Conservation Tips


Irrigation needs change throughout the year. Depending on the weather, little or no supplemental irrigation is needed during the winter months. Irrigation demands increase as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer and decrease as the weather gets cooler and days get shorter. Adjust your irrigation controller accordingly. Check out this chart to see how much water your plant really need by month. 

Plant Water Chart

Consider replacing turf areas with native, drought resistant plants and save 550 gallons or more each year:

View the Homeowner's Guide to WaterSmart Landscapes brochure for comprehensive information about landscape design, installation and maintenance of your new landscape.

Water Smart Gardens
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  • Water only when necessary
  • Apply 3-4 inches of bark or organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year
  • Consider the slope and drainage patterns of your lawn, place plants with high moisture requirements at the base of slopes so they can take advantage of natural drainage
  • Adjust sprinkler systems to avoid water runoff onto sidewalks and driveways and save 20 gallons of water daily
  • Install a WaterSense irrigation controller and save 40 gallons or more each day
  • Adjust your watering schedule with both the seasons and the weather
  • Choose native and low-water plant varieties when landscaping
  • Install a rain barrel to help reduce water use during spring and summer months and save 5 gallons or more each day
  • If your lawn or landscaping is set on a slope, water in short intervals to prevent runoff
  • Use a screwdriver to check the soil below the surface of your landscaping before watering. If it goes in easily, you do not need to water. Just because the surface of the soil is dry, doesn't mean that the roots require water
  • Help keep your established trees alive during the drought using the Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption. For more information on caring for trees during drought periods click here
  • Regularly check your irrigation system for leaks

Lawn Care

  • Raise the height of your lawnmower blades and save 500 to 1,500 gallons each month. Longer grass retains water better
  • After mowing your lawn check to make sure that your sprinkler heads have not been broken, knocked out of alignment, or clogged with grass clippings
  • Aerate your lawn regularly to help water reach grass roots more easily
  • Water with the weather and save 200 to 300 gallons of water
  • Change your spray-head sprinklers to MP Rotators that apply water in larger droplets at a slower rate for maximum performance with water-conserving results
  • When walking on your lawn, if grass blades spring back up quickly, watering isn’t necessary
  • Let your lawn go dormant during winter months when watering isn’t as essential

Pools, Spas & Fountains

  • Make sure pools, spas and outdoor fountains are equipped with recirculation pumps
  • Keep your pool clean to reduce the frequency of backwashing
  • If your pool is heated, reduce the water temperature to reduce evaporation
  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation and save 900 to 3,000 gallons of water a month
  • Turn off waterfalls, fountains and other water features to reduce water loss and evaporation
  • Maintain chemicals in spas and fountains to help extend the water life
  • If you drain your spa, reuse the water to irrigate plants or landscaping
  • Don’t overfill pools, spas, or fountains

General Outdoor

  • Use a broom to clean sidewalks and driveways and save 80 gallons of water
  • Take your car to a carwash or use a bucket and hose nozzle when  washing your car  and save 10 gallons or more a minute
  • Report broken pipes, hydrants and sprinklers
  • Equip all hoses with shut off nozzles
  • Know where the water shutoff valve is located in your home