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Overwatering Is Out

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Identifying key overwatering zones

I recently received a great comment from one of your neighbors asking if we had any programs to encourage residents to reduce their total grass area. We absolutely do! The even better news is that with a handful of tips and water-saving tricks (and just a bit of sweat) you can do it yourself. Before we dig into the how, we need to plan.

Curb Your Water Waste

Strategically cutting down on the amount of grass in your yard is one of the best ways you can save water and stop overwatering. The United States EPA estimates that as much as one-third of all residential water use goes to landscape irrigation, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day! Of that, as much 50% is waste from inefficient watering methods, either evaporating or flooding into storm drain systems and bringing pollutants with it.

We’ll talk more in the weeks ahead about how you can best remove and replace your grass, but for now we’ll focus on planning. We want to start small and tackle some simple changes before considering something major like removing all of your grass.

As a first step, let’s identify “key overwatering zones.” These are areas that, by their nature, are often overwatered.

The two most common zones are:

  • The narrow strips of grass or plants between a sidewalk and the curb, and
  • Sloped areas that rush water downhill.

Narrow vegetated strips are commonly so narrow that watering these areas without overspray and runoff becomes very difficult. Replacing these areas with decorative rock gardens or California Friendly plants (remember, OC Garden Friendly events in May!) that don’t need as much water or to be watered as often is a great way to reduce how much water your grass and garden requires.

Sloped areas cause water to run downhill instead of allowing infiltration into the soil. The water carries with it the nutrients you wanted for your plants and deposits it into the storm drain system where it fertilizes algae and plants, resulting in lower water oxygen levels and debris that will be washed downstream. Planting perennial California Friendly plants will, over time, result in strong root systems that hold onto soil and absorb more water.

The most important step for both zones, though, is starting to use less water. California Friendly plants and rock gardens need less water, but they don’t stop you from overwatering. Overwatering is stopped when you check your sprinklers to see if there is overspray or runoff, when you choose to water less or less often, and when you change your equipment to have the same penetration with less water. That, neighbors, is entirely in your control and all too easy to forget.

Sooo, what are your key overwatering zones? Be sure to take a before picture because in the weeks ahead we’re going to get ambitious and talk about how we can stop overwatering. I’ll walk you through how to remove grass and even offer you any help you need filling out rebates to make sure your hard work pays off!

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3 Comments

  1. Johanna Brody Says:

    May 12th, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    We want to replace our grass lawn with artifical turf. How do we get the $1/SF rebate mentioned on Page 6 of the San Clemente magazine? Time is approaching for this project to begin so please let me know ASAP. If photos of proof are required let me know that, too. Thanks so much.

  2. Gnorman Says:

    May 13th, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Hi Johanna,

    Could you please send me an email at gnome@h2oc.org? I’ll be happy to help our any way I can!

    Talk to you soon!

  3. Kathryn Hansen Says:

    January 17th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    I have two jacaranda trees on my boulevards, ie, on the grass between the sidewalk and the street. If I replace this grass with rock gardens, it will cut down the water for the trees. It’s a big dilemma. I know it overwaters in that area as it is hard to keep the spray on the grass only, but the trees need water too. They are large and beautiful.