Outdoor Conservation Tips
Use a bucket or a rain barrel to catch and store fresh rainwater from your rooftop. Then use this water for washing your car or for watering your lawn, garden, trees, and plants. Rainwater is better for your plants because it is not chlorinated. If you put a screen over your bucket, this will keep the insects out and keep mosquitoes from laying their eggs in the rainwater.
Use a spray nozzle on your hose. If this is an adjustable type, the water can be turned down to a fine spray. When finished using the hose, turn the water off at the faucet instead of the nozzle - this will help control leaks. Sweep off your driveway and sidewalk with a broom or use a blower - do NOT use the hose.
Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Vegetable Gardens
Water plants only when needed. Soaker hoses use less water than overhead sprinklers. Turn the soaker hose upside down (so that the holes are facing down). This will help to avoid evaporation. Remove weeds - they steal water from other plants. Use organic mulches (such as woodchips, shredded bark, grass clippings, straw, hay, leaves, or compost) – to retain moisture.
Cover the pool or spa to prevent evaporation and to keep the water cleaner. To avoid water going over the sides, do not over fill. Install a water-saving pool filter - traditional filters use 180-250 gallons of water. Do not drain pools/spas unless repair work is needed.
Rain gardens are a more natural landscape that uses wildflowers and other native plants. The native plants are low maintenance, use a lot less water, and do not require fertilizers. Due to their deep root system, native plants help the environment by increasing the soil's ability to store water, reducing runoff (flooding), and providing a habitat for birds and butterflies. The DNR provides a lot of information about Rain Gardens.