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We are facing the challenges of one of the harshest droughts Utah has ever seen, and the importance of conserving water is growing exponentially.

Utah on average is the third-driest state in the nation. Only Nevada and Arizona are drier. With this in mind, it might surprise you to find out that Utah ranks first in the nation in per-capita use of public water (county and city water). With Utah’s growing population comes an increase in water demand, and there is not much water to go around. It is time for the people of Utah to learn to conserve water.

While there are many tricks to conserving water indoors and outdoors (we should be doing anything we can at this point), one of the main places you may want to start conserving is on your lawns and landscapes. Utah consumes 240 gallons of water per person per day, and 40% of Utah’s water is used on landscapes rather than indoors. If people would water their lawn one day less each week, it could reduce water consumption by at least 10-15% if not more.

Our local USU Extension horticulture agent, Jaydee Gunnell, brought up some good points when it comes to caring for lawns.

“The most commonly used lawn grass in our area, Kentucky bluegrass, as part of its genetics and survival mechanism goes dormant and turns brown in the heat of the summer. Many of us try to irrigate this natural tendency out of the grass because we want green. It is OK for your lawn to look a little brown in the middle of the summer, it can handle it.”

For lawn care, there is too much of a good thing. Many Utahns water their lawns too much and for too long. Besides the wasteful use of water, overwatering can damage your lawn by limiting root depth, increasing insect activity, nutrient mis-absorption, and creating an ideal environment for fungus and molds that should not even exist in our arid state.

Now, many of you may be wondering, what do I do to keep my lawn alive? How much should I be watering? Am I watering too much? These are all questions you should be asking.

Luckily, USU Extension, in cooperation with the Center for Water Efficient Landscapes, is offering FREE water checks to help us all better understand how to properly use and conserve water on our landscapes.

If you are interested in signing up for a water check, you can go to the following website, https://cwel.usu.edu/watercheck, or call the following phone number — (435)797-5529 (press 2) — to set up an appointment.

The purpose of a Water Check is to educate homeowners on how to water landscapes more efficiently. This includes identifying repairs and improvements that could be made to the sprinkler system, providing water conservation tips, conducting a site walk-through, conducting pressure, soil and water output tests, as well as preparing an irrigation schedule for the residence.

After the initial assessment and evaluation, participants will be given educational handouts related to topics such as low water use landscaping, drip irrigation, and plants that are well-suited to Utah’s climate.

Colten Smith, a former Extension employee, mentioned what took place during these water checks.

“We look for common problems that are pretty simple to fix – dry spots, tilted, broken or mismatched sprinkler heads,” he said. “We always ask residents what they want to accomplish with this water check. Whether it’s saving water and money or improving lawn health, we do what we can to help them out.”

I hope that everyone will work together to conserve water. I know many cities throughout Cache County have started having irrigation restrictions. May I plead with you to please conserve the water we use on our landscapes and limit that water as much as possible.

The water that is available is not only essential for us, but for the production of our food as well. If there are any questions on conserving water, please call the USU Extension Office in Cache County (435)752-6263. We would be more than happy to help!

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