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Six Water Conservation Tips For Every Seattle Homeowner

Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a house or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to Today, teaches us six ways to conserve water at our Seattle homes.

Summer in Seattle is the best time of year to enjoy the yard, host a barbeque, or create a meal from an edible garden. But for many Seattleites, summer can be a month of expensive water bills. Why are summer rates more expensive? "While Seattle has plenty of water in the winter, our water system is limited by its ability to supply water during the summer when demand is at its highest and rainfall is at its lowest," says Seattle Public Utilities. On average, Seattle receives a slim 1" of water in July and August, making these months the driest and causing us to turn up the hose. But before rushing outside and over-watering your yard, consider this: According to National Geographic, "Nearly 60% of a person's household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance." Many homeowners may not even realize how much water they use in the summer. Leaks from a hose or faucet, for example, can waste as much as 3 gallons of water a day.

To help become more water-conscious, and reduce overall water consumption, we've compiled a list of the top water-saving tips. With smart planning and informed landscape design, you can help conserve water while maintaining a beautiful garden.

1. Get To Know Your Garden Zones

Every yard has sunny and shady areas. You might even have zones that naturally receive more water runoff than other areas. You can use your natural zones to help determine the best plants for those areas. If you can group plants by their water needs, you'll have an easier time watering specific areas of your yard rather than the entire property. To find out more about yard irrigation, and to learn the best times of day and months of the year to water your yard, check out the Seattle Irrigation Water Management Service website.

2. Mulching

Mulch is simply bark dust or another organic material that helps keep moisture locked below the surface. By distributing mulch around the root base of a plant, you'll prevent water from immediately evaporating. Mulch also helps prevent weeds from developing, which also suck water away from your primary plants. Protecting the roots is really the best way to have a healthy garden.

3. Composting

Composting doesn't directly lead to water conservation however, compost leads to healthy plants and soil. When the soil is healthy, it will retain water better and the plants will establish themselves faster. Read tips for the best composting materials and do-it-yourself organic fertilizer recipe here.

4. Plant Moss

Northwest gardens are used to seeing outcroppings of moss. Instead of fighting this bryophyte, embrace it. Moss helps retain moisture, can reduce erosion and is extremely low maintenance. Ground moss plants serve as an excellent alternative ground cover for landscaping by giving a smooth and green appearance. They are ideal constituents of shade gardens, as most types of moss plants require shady spots to grow. It can serve as tight fitting cap for rocks, making it an apt choice for rock gardening, and it tolerates dry weather better than grass.

5. Adjust your lawn care

A beautiful stretch of green grass is lovely to look at but it uses a lot of water. To save money on irrigation, reduce the size of your lawn so it covers less area. Longer blades of grass actually help lawns hold in more moisture so adjust the mower blades. Water early in the morning or late at night so water doesn't evaporate.

Pro Tip: "Stop fertilizing your lawn! If you already have a lush lawn, the best thing you can do to keep it that way is to decrease the amount of fertilizer being applied. While a well fertilized lawn looks good, it also grows faster and requires more water. By decreasing the amount of fertilizer you apply, your lawn will not grow as fast and will require less water to stay green. Fertilization should be started again in the fall when the weather is more forgiving", says professional Mauricio Stoppa from Kirkland Land Care."

6. Automatic Irrigation Systems

When installed and programmed properly, the automatic irrigation system can serve as one way to conserve water. Some experts believe that this system isn't very efficient, and may actually have higher than average water costs. You'll want to have your automatic irrigation system professionally checked for leaks, and regularly maintained in order to make it efficient. Check the nozzles for damage, keep them clear from debris, and adjust the nozzles if the spray is being directed on anything but landscape.

Pro Tip: "For homeowners that already have an underground sprinkler system installed, replacing the old spray heads with new rotating (Rainbird R-VAN nozzles, there are other brands) nozzles can improve water efficiency by up to 30%. This is a simple change that does not require any tools. Installing a rain sensor an also save money and water. We have all seen sprinkler systems go off during rainy days, after all we live in Seattle and the rain come frequently. Having a rain sensor can deactivate your sprinkler system after a certain amount of rain, saving water and money," says professional Mauricio Stoppa from Kirkland Land Care.
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