Department of Public Utilities

Water Conservation & Landscaping

Landscaping

Are you using too much water in your yard?

On average, 50 to 70% of home water is used outdoors for watering lawns and gardens. This is where we can save the most water. Water that flows onto the sidewalks and into the gutters and streets is water wasted. Don’t water concrete.

What about composting?
Visit “Master Gardener’s of Fresno County” to learn about composting classes.

Landscape & Irrigation

Follow the Outdoor Water Schedule.

Remember to follow the City of Fresno Outdoor Water Schedule. Set your system to follow the City of Fresno Water Schedule. Remember to water only on your watering day. Call Conservation to request a free water schedule refrigerator magnet.

Most water is wasted in your landscape by watering when your plants do not need water or by not maintaining the irrigation system. About 85% of all landscape problems are directly related to over- watering. By combining water conservation practices with creative landscape design, you can create an attractive haven that’s relatively hassle- free. A properly designed and operated irrigation system can reduce water. By using shade, rethinking traditional grass  lawns, taking advantage of natural runoff, planting in low irrigation areas, and using mulch, your landscape can be transformed into a beautiful design that conserves water.

  • Proper landscape design & irrigation—Select plants that are appropriate for our local climate conditions. Having a yard with 100% lawn turf area in our dry climate uses significant amounts of water. Consider Valley friendly water efficient plants and grasses. Xeriscape is an increasing trend in landscape design. Adjust your watering to take advantage of the less-thirsty plants. Avoid planting turf in areas that are difficult to irrigate properly such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
  • Group plants—Grouping plants according to their watering needs saves a substantial amount of water.
  • Water only what landscape needs—Much water is wasted in your yard by watering when plants and grass are not thirsty.
  • Mulch. Put a layer of mulch around trees, bushes and plants. Chunks of bark, peat moss or gravel slow evaporation, help the soil retain moisture, discourage the growth of weeds, and provide essential nutrients. Using mulch to a depth of 2 to 3 inches reduces evaporation and saves 750-1,500 gallons a month.
  • Porous materials prevent runoff—Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water on your property and prevent wasteful runoff.
  • Don’t over fertilize landscape—The application of fertilizers increases the need for water and is a source of water pollution. Use fertilizers according to direction.
  • Soil Improvements—Soils improved with organic matter allow for better water absorption and water- holding capacity. Properly enrich your soils with compost or peat moss. Aerate clay soils at least once a year to help the soil retain moisture. Then stand back to watch your plants thrive and grow.
Turf

You can achieve a healthy lawn without a lot of effort, it starts by being water smart. When watering your lawn, learn to use less water. You will save time, money, and water.

  • Practical Turf Areas—Grass should be grown only in areas where it provides functional benefit. Substitute less water-demanding materials, such as ground covers, water efficiency plants or mulches. Porous materials, rock, wood or concrete pathways and patio areas can be added to decrease water use while enhancing your yard, creating interest in the landscape.
  • Mow Higher and Develop Deep Roots—Mowing higher helps develop deep roots. If you mow the grass too short, root shock cause grass to turn yellow despite your watering. Set mower blades about 2-3 inches high. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade in one mowing. Grass needs leaf surface to take in sunlight. This will allow it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system. A lawn with deep roots requires less water and is more resistant to drought and disease. Taller blades of grass actually hold up better in the heat, because that little bit of extra cover shades the root zone keeping more moisture in the soil. Longer, thicker grass also makes it difficult for weeds to germinate and grow.
  • Keep blades sharp—For best results, keep the blade sharp and mow when the grass is dry. Sharp blades reduce water loss from your lawn. A sharp blade does not leave a ragged edge on the blade of the leaf like a dull blade does. Those ragged edges can soak up a lot of water, and when you consider the total surface area of cut grass blades it adds up.
  • Grass cycle—Want a simple, natural approach to lawn care? Consider grass cycling–leaving the grass clippings on the lawn. Because grass clippings are 75 to 85 percent water, they quickly decompose and release nutrients back into the lawn. Grass cycling, or mulch-mowing, provides greater shade to the ground and assists in reducing the rate of evaporation of soil moisture and surface watering. You save time by reducing bagging, raking and watering. Landfill space is also saved by reducing the amount of grass clippings being thrown away.
  • Let It breathe—Once a year, aerate your lawn by removing small plugs of earth. This allows air and water to reach the grass roots. You can have this done professionally, or rent tools to do the job yourself. Remove the weeds, which compete for water with the lawn.
  • Be Water Smarter—Water your lawn only when it needs it. A good way to test this is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move it doesn’t need watering and if it stays flat it needs watering. Water early or late in the day. As much as 30% of water can be lost to evaporation by watering when it is hot. By breaking up your watering time, you allow the water to soak into the ground before adding any additional water, eliminating runoff. If you have an irrigation controller and water is running off and not soaking in, set your controller to water in two shorter periods for the same total length of time.
Garden Hoses & Faucets

Your garden hose and sprinklers can pour out hundreds of gallons of water in a few hours. Never “forget” that you left them running.

  • Hose nozzles—Attach an automatic shut off spray nozzle to your hose, so that you can better control the water use, and so that the water doesn’t run freely when you set the hose down.
  • Leaky hoses—A standard garden hose can use 10 gallons per minute or more. This means you can easily use 100 gallons of water with only a 10 minute car or pavement wash. Check all hoses, hose bib connector and spigots regularly. Replace your hose if it leaks or is split. Look for little sprays of water along the hose. A hose washer will usually take care of hose bib leaks.
  • Repair dripping and leaky faucets—Small drips add up to 100-300 gallons a day. Consider the additional waste if you have more than one dripping faucet in your yard. Repair dripping and leaking faucets immediately.
Sprinklers, Drip and Other Irrigation Systems

Homes with the average in-ground sprinkler systems can use up to 35% more water outdoors than those who do not have an in-ground system. One reason may be that system controllers are not adjusted according to seasonal irrigation needs.

  • Determine the point of run off—Start your system through its automatic cycle. As each station comes on make a note of the time it starts. Watch each station and note how many minutes it takes to start running over the curb, onto the sidewalk or driveway, or to start forming puddles. This is the “run off point.” Using the shortest length of time noted, reset each station on your timer so the individual stations will shut off at this “run off point”. If you have clay or compacted soil that is slow to absorb water, set your timer to run a second cycle (again to the “point of runoff”) that begins AFTER the first cycle has soaked in.
  • Set Irrigation Timers appropriately.—Remember to set irrigation system timers to correspond with the appropriate City watering schedule. Be attentive if you are manually watering by setting your oven timer or some other reminder to move the water promptly. If you have an automatic irrigation controller, make sure it has a rain shutoff device. Adjust or deactivate automatic sprinklers in cooler weather. The City offers free assistance to customers who need their controllers adjusted.
  • Avoid Controller Power Outage Problems—Replace battery in controller with recommended type.
  • A good battery maintains the controller’s memory during power outages.
  • Teach family to use timers—Teach your family or others how to shut off automatic systems so they can turn them off if they get stuck or there is an emergency situation. While you are at it, teach them how to set the timers also.
  • Repair system leaks—Tune up your irrigation system for efficiency. Inspect sprinkler systems regularly for breaks, leaks and correct timers. When was the last time you actually watched all the sprinklers in action? Are you sure there aren’t any geysers coming out of your front yard? Check for water in the gutters or mud puddles.
  • More than 50% of your water can be lost to leaks with older, out-of-repair systems. Manually turn on each sprinkler station valve and check to make sure there are no broken sprinkler heads or pipes in each area. Make all repairs and clean the filters in pop-up sprayers. Flush out drip and micro system filters and tubing. Check each station for leaks every two weeks.
  • Correct over spray—While checking each station for leaks adjust any sprinkler heads that are spraying onto driveways, sidewalks or the street by rotating the head, correct spray pattern, adjusting the amount of flow from the heads, and/or using the correct spray pattern.
  • Water early or late in the day—To prevent water loss from evaporation, don’t water your lawn during the hottest part of the day or when it is windy. As much as 30% of water can be lost to evaporation by watering the lawn during midday. Avoid sprinklers that spray a fine mist, which increases evaporation.
  • Water in cycles—For the healthiest and most water-efficient lawn, try to water in several short watering cycles rather than one long one. Three 5 to 10 minute sessions spaced 30 minutes to an hour apart will allow your lawn to better absorb moisture than one straight longer session, and there is less water run off. This method also allows your grass to develop deeper roots.
  • Check the soil moisture—Although your grass may feel dry on the surface, the underlying soil may be sufficiently moist. When in doubt, stick a soil probe, screwdriver or moisture meter into the grass to determine if additional watering is necessary.
  • Drip Irrigation—Install a drip irrigation system for watering gardens, trees and shrubs. Drip irrigation provides a slow, steady trickle of water to plants at their roots through a network of hidden pipes and hoses. The systems are regulated by a controller that can be adjusted for different levels of watering according to the needs of the plants. Drip irrigation systems reduce overwatering, inefficient watering, weed growth, and the time and labor involved in hand watering.
Ponds & Fountains

Properly managing your pond and fountains to avoid unnecessary draining and refilling can save thousands of gallons of water a year.

  • Recirculating pumps—Fountains and ponds should be equipped with recirculating pumps. These water features should also be checked annually for hidden leaks or other problems. Avoid installation of ornamental water features unless the water is recycled. Locate where there are minimal losses due to evaporation and wind drift.

No Fee Leak & Irrigation Efficiency Survey

The City of Fresno is your conservation partner. Do you want to find out if there are leaks in your home? What about your landscape irrigation system, is that as efficient as it can be? We’re here to help.