Efficient Water Use For A “Green” Yard & Garden


Springtime is here, which means gardening season is in full swing. Luckily there are lots of simple ways to keep your lawn and garden “green” with efficient water use. Read on to learn about some of our favorite user-friendly and environmentally-friendly lawn and garden gear.

Wasting water is a needless drain (no pun intended) on both resources and your wallet. The keys to streamlining water use are first creating an outdoor space that doesn’t require excessive watering, then using available water resources as efficiently as possible.

Smart Landscaping, Xeriscaping, & Drought-Tolerant Plants

Grass lawns are attractive and great for recreation. But since they tend to require much more water than other landscaping options, you can reduce water consumption by only maintaining the lawn space you really need. For example, grassy property borders can often be replaced with other plantings without sacrificing usable green space.

Beautiful landscaping actually doesn’t need to require any supplemental watering at all. A fantastic resource for eco-friendly landscape architecture ideas is this guidebook by Olivier Filippi.

The Dry Gardening Handbook
The Dry Gardening Handbook, $47.64 (Hardcover)

Another great book that explores stunning alternatives to traditional lawns is Evelyn Hadden’s Beautiful No-Mow Yards.

Evelyn Hadden's Beautiful No-Mow Yards

Beautiful No-Mow Yards, $16.47

Water Conservation – Use Rain, Not The Tap

Water conservation in your outdoor space doesn’t necessarily need to mean using less water – it can simply mean consuming less water from the faucet. By letting rain do its job and capturing extra rainfall for later use, homeowners can greatly reduce the stress on municipal water supplies and save money on utility bills. Rainwater is most often collected from roof drains, but can also be captured directly into rain barrels or even from drainage below permeable paving.

LaCrosse Rain Gauge

First of all, do you even need to water? How do you know if it’s rained enough to skip irrigating your plants? Easy – pick up a good rain gauge. For general use, we like LaCrosse’s simple, easy to read model; serious gardeners and aspiring meteorologists will like the precision Stratus model.

LaCrosse Technology Waterfall Rain Gauge

LaCrosse Technology Waterfall Rain Gauge, $14.95

Stratus Professional Rain & Snow Gauge

Stratus Professional Rain & Snow Gauge, $35.

A simple rain barrel is the simplest way to collect rainwater for later use. Many homeowners devise their own system, or you can pick up a complete, ready-to-go barrel for around $100.

For a basic, durable rain barrel, consider the 50-gallon model from Rain Wizard. Its polyethylene construction won’t rot or rust, and it’s available in a range of colors.

Rain Wizard 50-Gallon Rain Barrel

Rain Wizard 50-Gallon Rain Barrel, $99

For something a bit bigger and more full-featured, we love the Fiskars Salsa. It’s also made of UV-resitant polyethylene, but holds 58 gallons of water. It looks sharp as well, and includes a downspout diverter kit to make installation a cinch.

Fiskars Salsa 58-Gallon Rain Harvesting System

Fiskars Salsa 58-Gallon Rain Harvesting System, $144.99

Once you’ve collected the rainwater, you still need to get it to your plants. RainPerfect’s solar water pump is a perfect complement to a rain barrel, utilizing a small solar panel to power a rechargeable NiMH battery. Just connect a standard garden hose to the unit, which can create 13 psi of water pressure and move 100 gallons of water on a single charge.

RainPerfect Solar Water Pump

RainPerfect Solar Water Pump, $125.

For large-scale water storage, the Rainwater Pillow is a versatile solution that doesn’t require constructing a permanent cistern. Click to read Modern Enviro’s profile of the Rainwater Pillow.

Put The Water Where You Need It

Sprinklers can spray a huge area – unfortunately water is often wasted when is sprays beyond a target onto sidewalks and driveways. A clever solution for small, irregular spaces like decorative plantings and gardens is the Noodlehead Flexible Sprinkler. Individual “noodles” can be bent into position to direct water only where it’s needed, up to 20 feet away.

Noodlehead Flexible Lawn & Garden Sprinkler

Noodlehead Flexible Lawn & Garden Sprinkler, $11.90.

For garden beds or individual trees, a soaker hose is perfect. It delivers water directly to the root system, and less water is lost to evaporation. We like the 50-foot Gilmour hose: it’s flexible, easy to position around trees or garden beds, and optimized for low water pressure.

Gilmour Drip Irrigation Weeper / Soaker Hose
Gilmour Drip Irrigation Weeper / Soaker Hose, $13.51.

An occasional heavy watering will nourish most plants just as well as more frequent mistings, with much less water lost to evaporation. And avoid watering in windy conditions or during the peak heat of the day. A simple hose-mounted timer like the Orbit One-Dial model can let you control when and how your plants are watered, even when you’re not at home.

Orbit One-Dial Garden Hose Digital Water Timer

Orbit One-Dial Garden Hose Digital Water Timer, $31.35

You might also be interested in:

Modern Enviro’s Guide to Gas-Free Lawn Care