General Yard/Landscaping Tips
- Use mulch, compost and wood chips as ground cover to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool.
- Check the moisture content of the soil 6 to 8 inches below the surface. Use a soil moisture meter or screwdriver to test. Water only if the moisture meter registers "dry" or if the screwdriver doesn't go in easily.
- Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
- Direct downspouts and other runoff towards shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
- Wait for fall to put new plants in the ground. Spring is the second best time to plant.
- Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete for nutrients, light, and water.
- Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.
- Reduce the amount of grass in your yard by planting shrubs, and ground cover with rock and granite mulching.
Efficient Irrigation Tips
- Water all plants deeply but infrequently to encourage deeper, healthier rooting.
- Irrigate according to the requirements of the plants, not on a fixed schedule.
- Install water-efficient landscaping.
- Don’t water when it’s windy or raining.
- Never water in a way that it will drain into the gutter.
- Check monthly for leaks in outside pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings.
- Turn sprinklers off if the system is malfunctioning or when a storm is approaching.
- Winterize outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from bursting or freezing.
- Never allow a hose to run continuously.
- When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
- While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
- Use a spray nozzle with a shut-off handle on your hose.
- Avoid installing ornamental water features and fountains that spray water into the air. Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation.
- Water your lawn and landscaping before dawn or after the sun sets when there’s less evaporation.
- Adjust your sprinklers so they don’t spray on sidewalks, driveway or street.
- Check or readjust your automatic sprinkler timer at least once a month during the watering season.
- Get a rain barrel. Use recycled rain water to water your lawn.
- Build a rain gauge. The average lawn needs one inch of water per week to survive.
- Use greywater on your landscaping.
- Don't water your lawn on windy days. After all, sidewalks and driveways don't need water.
- Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden with a hose.
- Resist the temptation to water when it's hot out. The hotter it is, the more water you lose to evaporation.
- Use drip irrigation for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots where it's needed.
For Your Lawn
- Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering.
- Use a soil moisture meter before you water. Water only when it reads "dry." Don't have a soil moisture meter? Use a screwdriver as a soil probe to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don't water.
- Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
- Set lawn mower blades one notch higher since longer grass reduces evaporation.
- Leave grass clippings on your grass, this cools the ground and holds in moisture.
- Aerate your lawn so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
- Never water grass if the soil is still wet.
- Avoid planting turf in areas that are hard to water such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
- Use the sprinkler for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
Miscellaneous Outdoor Water Conservation Tips
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
- When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don't throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.
- Use a broom and a blower to clean off your driveway, walkways, patio, or balcony instead of a hose.
- Don’t allow children to play with the hose.
- Take your car to a car wash that recycles its wash water.
- Report water waste to the DWP so that we can address problems quickly and educate all of our residents and visitors.
- If washing your car, use a bucket of water,a sponge and a spray hose nozzle with a shut-off function.
- Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
- Put your garden in a greenhouse.
If You Have a Pool
- Use a cover to cut down evaporation.
- Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day.
- Repair any swimming pool leaks.
- Manually clean your filter. You'll do a more thorough job and use less water. The average backwash uses between 250 to 1,000 gallons of water.
People tend to use fixed run-times (15, 20, 25 minutes, etc.) when setting their irrigation controllers and typically turn the controllers on in the spring and off in the fall. However, even if the run-times are set perfectly in the summer, the amount of water wasted during the cooler spring & fall is considerable.
What is ET?
ET is short for evapotranspiration, which is a combination of:
- Evaporation from soil and exposed surfaces.
- Transpiration, the process by which moisture is carried from the plant roots and released through leaves - the evaporation of water from plant leaves.
About ET or WBIC Controllers
An ET controller, also known as a Weather-Based Irrigation Controller (WBIC) or smart controller, is similar to existing controllers for irrigation (sprinkler) systems. These controllers deliver only the amount of water needed to a specific plant or area based on input variables such as plant type, soil, slope, and weather.
Outsmart the Seasons
The following is a summary of the amount of over-watering associated with typical run-times compared to ET run-times for turf during the spring, summer, and fall of 2003:
|Typical Sprinkler Run-Times||Percent Over-Watered Compared to ET-Based Run-Times|
Different controller systems use slightly different estimates of ET. ET is estimated from weather variables including temperature, humidity, and wind. The Department of Water and Power (DWP) maintains a local weather monitoring station that is part of the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) that records weather data and transmits it daily. By monitoring the data, Bear Valley residents can use their controller to replace the exact amount of water lost on a day-to-day basis resulting in extremely efficient irrigation.
This is the station you are looking for if you use the CIMIS station website:
|199||Big Bear Lake||San Bernardino|
The following chart shows the ETo rate for Big Bear Lake based on the Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance.
As a general rule of thumb, irrigation systems should be inspected seasonally. Check out the Sprinkler Spruce-Up page for instructions.
If you would like more information about ET or any of the DWP’s water conservation programs, please contact the Conservation Department.
The following is a limited list of outdoor water use rules and regulations:
- No hose washing of sidewalks, driveways, patios, decks, houses or other hard surfaces except when needed to protect public health and safety (permits are available upon request).
- Landscape watering shall be done before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. from April 1st through November 1st.
- Follow the alternate day watering schedule (even/odd):
- If your address ends in an odd number, you may water on odd calendar dates: 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.
- If your address ends in an even number, you may water on even calendar dates: 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.
- No outdoor watering during, or within 48 hours following, measurable precipitation.
- All irrigation systems must be shut off and winterized November 1st through April 1st.
- Water should be used reasonably and productively at all times.
- All water leaks must be repaired once detected.
- Water must be kept from running off onto adjacent properties, public or private roadways, and streets.
- Automatic shut-off nozzles must be used on hand-held hoses.
- Washing vehicles must be done with a bucket and a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
- There shall be no use of water from fire hydrants, except for fire protection and approved construction purposes.
- Turf (grass) shall be limited to 25% of the landscaped area or 1,000 square feet, whichever is less. View a full list of landscape regulations.
- Temporary watering exemptions are available, but you must obtain a water permit.
Download a copy of the DWP's Water Conservation Policy.
View additional Landscape Regulations.
Report Water Waste
909-866-LEAK or 909-866-5050, ext. 268
Save Water Report (allows you to find reporting information across the state)
If you have questions, would like more information, or conservation tips, please contact the Conservation Department.