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Conserve Water

As we face drought conditions in the Sacramento region, there are plenty of steps that residents can take to save water in landscapes. Of the water used by the typical suburban home, more than half is used on landscaping. Since 30 percent of that is lost due to overwatering or evaporation, the opportunity for water conservation is significant. The following programs and water saving tips offer ways to create water efficient landscapes.

Programs for Residents

In an effort to promote the efficient use of water in the landscape, the Regional Water Authority (RWA — representing the interests of most of the water providers in the Sacramento Region) created the Blue Thumb program.

RWA's Be Water Smart website has a lot of useful information on creating water efficient gardens — check out Water Smart Gardening.

Outdoor tips to cut back on water use

Making the most efficient use of water in your landscape starts with making the most of the water you provide to your existing plants:

  • Water according to need — consider what plants need based on the weather, soil type, sun exposure, and slope.
  • Make every drop count — fix leaking, broken, and misaligned sprinklers in your irrigation system. Water plants deeply and early in the day.
  • Request an irrigation audit — schedule a FREE irrigation audit from your local water supplier (many provide this service).
  • Mulch around your plants — mulch conserves water by reducing evaporation.
Inline emitters are much more efficient than
overhead sprayers.

If you have the opportunity to create a new landscape or renovate an old one, consider the following in your design:

  • Group plants by water needs (called hydrozoning) — plants vary a great deal in their need for water. Group plants by their water needs and place each group on its own irrigation valve.
  • Use California natives or Mediterranean plants — Many California natives, as well as many Mediterranean species, tolerate dry summers with little or no water once they are established.
  • Minimize the lawn — Lawns use a lot more water than other landscape areas.
  • Design and install high efficiency irrigation systems — drip systems are generally more efficient than overhead sprinklers because they minimize overspray, evaporation, and runoff. Plants are healthier because the water is applied more closely to plant root zones.


The Seven Principles of
River-Friendly Landscaping

Click on any section to learn more

Is your landscape River-Friendly?
Use our benefits calculator to find out.

Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might find of interest:

Contest Winner

RFL Inspiration Garden

RFL Examples

Rain Gardens

Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost

Get Mulching

Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding Frenzy Really Needed?

Plant Trees, Save Energy!

Right Plant, Right Place!

Plant Selection

Plant Communities

Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…

Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?

Rethink Your Lawn

Pests Bugging You?

River-Friendly Pest Control

Managing Common Pests

Good Bugs

Interview about RFL (MP3)

Choose California natives first

Don't Blow It!

Reducing Outdoor Asthma Triggers


Watch the YouTube video
"Slow the Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.