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Apologies for the slightly off topic response... 

Susan's suggestion of replacing the lawn with low creeping ground cover is
excellent, but needs a caveat: some of the common "lawn replacements" like
english ivy (Hedera helix) and periwinkle (vinca) are invasive in many parts
of North America. Native plants are a much better choice for ground cover:
it would be a shame to achieve water conservation at the expense of local

Below is an excellent website that lists invasive plants, the states they
are invasive in, and whether they are sold in commercial nurseries. 


Melissa Malkin
Research Triangle Institute, Pollution Prevention Program 
POB 12194 
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194
voice: (919) 541-6154     fax (919) 541 7155

-----Original Message-----
From: Susan M. Anderson [mailto:sma@balancetech.com]
Sent: Monday, May 17, 1999 12:26 AM
To: Bruce Suits; 'P2TECH'; Pradeep Srivastava
Subject: Re: Re[2]: WATERING THE LAWN

Xeriscaping was mentioned as a possible means to reduce water use.  That is
landscaping with drought tolerant plants.  Most people think of catus when
they first hear of xeriscaping, but you can actually be talking about lawns
and gardens as well.  For example, if you really need a lawn, check into
the native grasses from your area.  They have adapted to the conditions in
your area and often grow well with a lot less water.  Many also require
little to no fertiziler and pesticides.  Many varieties native to Montana
and the plains states grow slower than common lawn grasses so they don't
need to be mowed as often.  Native plants are also good choices for
landscaping and gardens because they thrive on the water mother nature
gives them and only need extra water in extremely hot weather or if planted
in more sun than normal.  

Another idea similar to converting your lawn to rocks, but more
aesthetically pleasing in my mind, is to replace your lawn with some form
of low creeping ground cover plant.  This works especially well for front
lawns that are strictly for show and are rarely used for walking or playing
(these plants usually won't provide the soft cushion under your feet that
grasses do).   Again these plants use much less water than the regular lawn
and often need no fertilizers, pesticides, mowing or pruning.

I have heard that, in addtion to not watering in the heat of the day, you
can also reduce losses to evaporation by keeping the water as close to the
ground as possible.  The longer the water spends in the air or on the
leaves the more chance of evaporation.  Soaker hoses or direct application
(from dish water, etc) are definately the best way to water a garden and
non-grass landscaping.  Many plants actually prefer to be watered at the
roots rather than on the leaves.  These methods aren't very practical for a
large lawn, but I believe the theory applies to the selection of a
sprinkler as well.  Choose one that keeps the water close to the ground and
then determine just how much water it deposits per minute.  Even
conventional lawns require much less water than most people give them (the
rest is lost in the dirt or runs off onto the sidewalk and down the storm
drain).  Check with your local water utility or landscaper to find out how
much water is appropriate for your area.  You would be suprised how little
water it takes to keep a lawn healthy.  It can be as little as 10 minutes
once or twice a week applied early in the morning.

Susan Anderson