Outdoor Water Saving Tips

Lawn Care

  • Water your lawn once a week for no more than one hour. (This is equivalent to 2.5 cm (1'') of water.) To estimate the correct amount of water your lawn needs, place an empty tuna can on your lawn. Once the water has reached the top of the can, you have applied 2.5 cm of water!
  • Skip a week of watering if it rains. When your lawn turns slightly brown, it is simply dormant; not dead. It will turn green again shortly after a rainfall.
  • Less frequent watering encourages deeper, healthier lawn roots.
  • Water your lawn during the coolest part of the day (early morning or late evening) and avoid windy or hot days to reduce water loss through evaporation.
  • Set mower height to keep grass between five and eight centimetres (two or three inches) high. Tall grass will retain water better.
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn. This will help water retention and inhibit weed growth.
  • Avoid walking on and mowing the grass during periods of drought to reduce additional stress.
  • Aerate your lawn once a year, spring or fall, to improve water penetration.


  • Deliver water where it is needed. Direct water to the plant's root system, which is usually the area directly below the outer tips of the branches.
  • Use a soaker hose rather than a sprinkler. Not only does this reduce evaporation, but this will also enable you to direct water to the roots where it's needed, rather than the leaves.
  • Prioritize your watering needs, and don't water until the plants need it. Test the soil with your finger to see how dry it is.
  • Native plants and most perennials can wait until the next rainfall.
  • Gauge what stage of growth your plants are at. Usually, well-established plants will require less water.
  • Avoid direct water by hose, which can wash away soil and expose plants to disease.


  • Ecoscape your yard: consider planting drought-tolerant native plants, for which rainfall is usually enough.
  • Place plants with similar water requirements close together.
  • Increase the soil's water retention by adding compost.
  • Add a layer of mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to reduce weed growth and evaporation.
  • The grass will compete with plant roots for water. Keep your lawn at least two feet from the stem of newly planted shrubs and trees.
  • Weed regularly, as weeds compete with your plants for water.
  • Consider replacing a lawn with native ground cover or herbs and flowers that will require little maintenance and water.

Other Outdoor Water Saving Tips

  • Position sprinklers so that they are not watering driveways, sidewalks or streets.
  • Use automatic timers or sprinklers if you will be leaving during watering.
  • Make sure sprinkler is affixed to a hose or in-ground system to ensure hoses are shut off after use.
  • Undertake applicable inspection, maintenance and repairs to in-ground systems as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Make sure hoses and irrigation equipment are in good condition. Check regularly for leaks or blockages and shut outdoor taps off tightly after use.
  • Purchase a rain barrel through the City's Rain Barrel Program to collect rainwater from your roof.
  • Use a drip irrigation system. This system is the most effective because it directs water to the root zone.
  • Clean your sidewalks and driveways with a broom or a brush rather than using a hose. Your lawn and garden cannot store water for a long time, so don't overwater to cover times you will be away.
  • Use large containers for potted plants (10 inches, 25 cm) as the larger the volume of soil, the slower it dries.
  • Design a water-wise landscape in your yard.

Seven principles for a water-wise ecoscape garden

  1. Planning and design — for water conservation and beauty for your site and your needs.
  2. Create practical turf areas — of manageable size, shape and appropriate grass.
  3. Amend the soil — like compost or manure as needed by the site and types of plants used.
  4. Chose low water plants — and group plants with similar water requirements together. For a list of drought-tolerant plants, visit The Enjoy Centre.
  5. Use mulch — such as wood chips or sawdust, to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool.
  6. Water wisely — with the right system and by applying the right amount of water at the right time.
  7. Good maintenance — by mowing, pruning, weeding regularly.
  8. Visit St. Albert's Water-Wise ecoscape demonstration garden at St. Albert Botanic Park.

For more water conservation tips, visit EPCOR or our smart irrigation tips.

Related Pages

Last edited: January 29, 2021