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How much water does your law really need?

How much water does your lawn really need?

How much do we overwater our lawns? Water issues in the West(see the March Sunset, page 92), and a dry winter in several states, are making this an increasingly urgent question.

Can watering less really make a difference? Absolutely. According to studies by the California Department of Water Resources, more than half the water used by a typical single-family residence goes outdoors--mostly on lawns. And studies consistently show that most homeowners apply at least twice as much as their lawns actually need.

In other words, just by learning to water our lawns moreefficiently, we can cut total household use by up to 25 percent. That's good for the lawns, too. Overwatering yields a shallow-rooted lawn and can leach fertilizers and nutrients out of the root zone. It causes grass to grow faster, so you have to mow more often. And it can encourage disease problems that must be treated with expensive and often toxic chemicals.

A decade of research and new technology

We've learned a lot since the 1976-77 drought that left brownlawns in many Western communities.

--We finally have guidelines that tell exactly how much water alawn will need in various locations. In the last year or two, many municipalities have published guides for their own communities, but figures for other regions are still hard to come by. So Sunset garden editors, with the help of Western universities and government sources, have developed charts (see page 217) for cities and towns across the West.

--And new technology makes it easier to water more efficientlyand minimize waste--as you'll see on pages 218 and 219.

Cities are targeting lawns to save water

Many Western cities are getting serious about residential waterconservation, and they are looking very sharply at lawns.

Contra Costa County in California now limits turf to 20 percentof landscaped area in some home developments. Glendale, Arizona, offers rebates for homeowners who convert existing landscapes to low-water-use plants or install automatic sprinkler controls. In Denver, street address numbers determine watering schedules.

And in Palm Springs, letting water runoff your lawn into the street may be punishable by a fine.

Photo: Lawn audits test sprinkler output. Above, a Sunset editorand a technician review the process at a U.C. field station. Research performed there and at other universities has resulted in regional lawn watering guides like those at right
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1987
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