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See What Homeowners Are Doing With Their Landscapes Now

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Busting Myths About WaterWise Landscapes


by MIKE LORENC, Conservation Garden Park

MYTH #1: Only Rocks and Cactus

This is easily the biggest misconception. Visitors here at the Conservation Garden Park often ask where the waterwise demonstrations are—without realizing the entire six-acre garden is waterwise. Most of the Garden uses perennial flowers, ornamental grasses, bulbs, attractive shrubs, living ground covers, and mulch to create a beautiful landscape that uses much less water than an average Utah yard. How much less? The average water use for a residential landscape here in Utah is about 50 inches. To get an idea of how much water that is, build a wall around your property 50 inches high, and then fill it with water. Most Utah yards could get away with half that amount, which is how much our lush waterwise demonstration gardens use— often times more than half.

MYTH #2: No Lawn

Although the lawn uses more water than any other plant in your yard, it can still be part of a wonderful waterwise landscape. We encourage everyone to decide for themselves how much lawn they really need. If you have a lawn you rarely seem to walk on except when mowing it, it’s probably a good time to think about replacing that lawn with lower water use plants.

MYTH #3: Only Native Plants

Native plants are fantastic because they are already used to our water and soil conditions. However, not all natives thrive in the valley (example: Quaking Aspen do better in their native mountain habitat). While you will find hundreds of native plants here in the Garden, a large portion of them are from other parts of the world with climates that are as dry as ours. A lot of plants will also do just fine on less water than most people are currently giving them.

MYTH #4: No Maintenance

Waterwise landscaping is designed to look somewhat natural, but it still requires some maintenance. This type of maintenance is different than what is required by a traditional lawn-heavy yard. Instead of mowing and edging, more weeding and pruning are needed. Once established though, mature water-wise landscapes actually require less work.

Garden Path


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Sprinkler System Tune-Up

Start the season off right.


Want the best lawn in the neighborhood and use less water? Well we have the answers right here. Every spring we turn the water on and fight through the garage to find our sprinkler controller. We rush to turn it on and walk away, all while hoping for the best. While this may have worked in years past, it is the quickest way to set yourself up for failure.

Here are 10 easy steps to getting the best lawn and using less water.

  1. Wait for the right time. Every spring it seems like we get a few good days of nice weather and people rush to turn their sprinklers on. Then, without fail, we get that spring snow storm and usually plenty of spring rain. By letting Mother Nature bring your grass out of dormancy in the spring, you are  giving your lawn a better chance at staying green in the hot summer months. If you wait to turn your sprinklers on, your grass will naturally seek out moisture by deepening its roots, in turn making it stronger.  In South Jordan, we typically don’t need to water until May 1st or later.  
  2. Turn the water on slowly and check for leaks. Winters can be harsh on sprinklers and any water left in the line can cause serious damage. Start off right by making sure that visible joints, valves, and your backflow preventer are drip free. Even small leaks can result in thousands of gallons of wasted water.
  3. Check for buried or sunken sprinklers. Grass is  aggressive and can easily swallow up sprinklers and render them useless. Go through each zone and each sprinkler to ensure that they are popping up and not stuck under the grass. Also, check the positioning to make sure you are not watering the sidewalk or street.
  4. Check for broken sprinklers. Go through your yard and look for any broken sprinklers that are not spraying well. Replace broken heads and nozzles, and make sure you replace them with the same model. Mixing heads and nozzles throughout your zone can lead to improper coverage and  lots of water waste.
  5. Check the coverage. Poor coverage can lead to dry spots and typically results in overwatering to compensate for areas that are being missed. One of the best ways to reduce dry spots in your turf is to ensure head to head coverage. Head to head coverage or 100% overlap is the ideal set up for your grass. To ensure this coverage, look at the spray (or throw) of each sprinkler and make sure it is hitting the heads that are adjacent to it. If you are not  achieving good coverage, use adjustable nozzles  to change the throw distance.
  6. Clean screens and filters. Clogged sprinklers can lead to improper spray and can ruin a nice green lawn in a hurry. Taking a few minutes now to go through your filters and clean or replace them can keep your lawn at its best.
  7. Set the proper schedule. A good watering schedule can be one of the greatest ways to keep your lawn green and save water. The best way to set up a good schedule  is to use the tools that already exist. RainBird has a scheduling tool that will work with any sprinkler controller. Visit and follow the easy steps to set up a schedule specific for your area.
  8. Adjust your controller for the season. One of the best ways to save water is to make sure your schedule is adjusted for the season. It is easy to set it once and not look back, but this can cost you hundreds of dollars in wasted water.  While your lawn may need water every other day in the heat of the summer, it’s likely that in May and October it may need it every third or fourth day. Many new controllers offer seasonal adjust, but for those that don’t, schedule dates on your calendar to increase or decrease the times you water.
  9. Use rain delay or a rain sensor. Most controllers come with a rain delay button and many new controllers offer options to use rain sensors. Using these functions can save thousands of gallons of water each year.  Check your local weather report and if rain is in the forecast, turn the sprinklers off and watch your water savings increase.
  10. Watch the grass grow. Remember that a good lawn needs care and maintenance. Keep an eye out for dry spots, and rather than increasing your run times, use a hose to spot water. Also avoid cutting your lawn too short, your grass needs less water if you leave it a little longer and only cut the top third.

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