The average lawn drinks 10,000 gallons a year from home water supplies. Why is it that after we water the lawn or garden it rains? This midsummer, we resolve to search our local forecast here before we sprinkle or hose.  

Quick tip: Water in the a.m., before sun falls on the yard, and only until grass is wet to the touch. Up to 50 percent of irrigation water evaporates.

Tech tip: Try a smart wireless sprinkler controller. Your PC regulates the automatic sprinkler system and can reduce water bills up to 70 percent. The program has your computer factor in local weather forecasts, climate and season. $350,

Real men water. For a sprinkler system, the July Men’s Journal recommends installing underground irrigation system, which can save up to 9,000 gallons a year, according to the EPA’s watersense program. To find an EPA-approved company in your state that installs systems with smart controllers, click here.

If water really is the next oil, we’d better start hoarding it.

More tips:

* Water garden less frequently but for longer duration, to give soil a good lasting soak.

* Make sure there's proper drainage, and aerate lawns to allow air and water to penetrate more deeply to the roots.

* Leave clippings on the lawn to serve as mulch, which retains moisture and suppresses weeds. Rake clippings and leaves around the base of plants.

* Collect rain in barrels for irrigation; see the August issue of Plenty Magazine where we recommend the Rainwater Hog.

* Try xeriscaping, that is, planting low-water plants suited to your region; check your local university extension and organic agriculture and gardening associations such as NOFA.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in July 2008. The story was added to

Copyright Environ Press 2008

See also:

How to save water

Ways to save water