Lawn and Garden Care ~ Water Conservation Tips

The City of Calgary offers these excellent tips.

Did you know? During spring and summer, your water use can jump by 50 per cent because of outdoor watering activities. Save money on your water bills while still having a pristine lawn by following these simple tips.

We also invite you to check out these water-saving tools that can help you manage your lawn and garden. You can also find information on what plants save water and grow well in Calgary’s climate at YardSmart.

Tips for watering your lawn

Check the weather forecast

Including rainfall, your lawn needs only 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water over the week to stay healthy. Check out the Calgary lawn and garden forecast at The Weather Network or Environment Canada.

Use your sprinkler only if you have to

Lay a Frisbee upside down within range of your sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill up. That’s how long you should run the sprinkler over the week, if there is no rain. Your soil can only absorb so much water, so it’s best to divide the sprinkler time up into several smaller time periods throughout the week.

Water in the morning

Avoid watering between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is usually the hottest time of the day. Use a sprinkler timer set for first thing in the morning. The water won’t evaporate as quickly and you won’t forget to turn off the sprinkler.

Properly aim your sprinkler

To avoid watering your driveway and sidewalk, be sure that your sprinkler is aimed onto your lawn and garden areas.

Tips for mowing your lawn

Keep your grass three inches long

When you mow your lawn, keep the grass at 3 inches (~7.5cm) long. Longer grass shades its own roots from the scorching sun and chokes out those pesky weeds, like dandelions. Longer grass also helps create a healthier, hardier lawn by allowing longer roots to develop and it holds moisture better so you don’t have to water as much.

Leave grass clippings on your lawn

Leave grass clippings on the lawn to increase organic matter, discourage weeds, and retain moisture. Grasscycling returns nutrients to the soil. These grass clippings provide free fertilizer to help your lawn grow greener. It’s easy to grasscycle with your mower. Keep the mower blade sharp and mow when the grass is dry. Clippings left on the lawn will break down easily.


Allow air, water and fertlizer to reach the roots. Leave the small round cones of soil that are cut out of the ground. Rake or mow over these pieces to break them up. The micro-organisms in the cores will help to decompress thatch and allow your lawn to absorb more moisture. Learn more about aeration.

General lawn and garden tips

Limit Lawns

Consider replacing your grass with low water-use plants and ground covers. You will save water and time because low water-use landscaping requires less maintenance. Learn more about water-wise annuals and perennials, and trees and shrubs.

Group plants and grade beds

Keep plants with similar watering needs together in areas of the garden that best suit their needs. Grading the garden will also help direct water to the plants that have the highest water needs. See what steps you can take to create a healthy and beautiful yard.

Use mulch

Bark, wood chips and stone help reduce evaporation from the soil, inhibit weed growth and minimize loss of soil, which helps provide extra water to your plants. Learn more about using mulch in your yard and garden.

Be Careful with Chemicals

Rainwater carries pesticides and fertilizers off our lawns in to the storm sewers. Since most of Calgary’s stormwater drains into the river untreated, this is one chemical cocktail the river can do without. Learn more about seeding and fertlilizing your lawn.

Ask for Advice

When in doubt, feel free to contact us at 3-1-1 and we’ll help you find answers. Also, consider consulting a gardening book or talk to your local garden-centre expert for how-to info on seeding, fertilizer and disease treatment and prevention. We offer other lawn care tips including top-dressing, dethatching, pest control (lawn pests and yard pests).

Prepare for Winter

Before the temperature drops, drain your hoses, empty your rain barrel, and store them away to prevent cracking and freezing.

(City of Calgary)