Get your yard ready to save water all winter

By Nai Hsueh, Valley Water Board of Directors

As the seasons change, so do the watering needs of your yard. Don’t leave your sprinklers on autopilot! Be sure to get ready for the cold season by reducing your watering. In the fall, your plants need less than half the water needed during the summer. Over the winter, you can turn off irrigation altogether.

Our board has adopted new watering rules to help you save water during the drought. These rules prohibit watering with 48 hours of rainfall measuring a quarter inch or more. To comply with the new regulations and avoid overwatering, we invite you to install a smart controller to make those adjustments for you automatically. Smart irrigation controllers adjust your irrigation schedule depending on weather conditions. Visit to learn about this and other irrigation upgrade rebates. If you need help getting started, sign up for a free water-wise outdoor survey to identify upgrade opportunities for your yard. A trained irrigation professional will survey your yard and complete a comprehensive evaluation of your irrigation system.

Our new outdoor watering rules also prohibit watering between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and producing excessive runoff. Even if you already follow these rules, frequently checking on your irrigation system is a great way to save water and money. Half of the water used outdoors is wasted. You can minimize waste by adding a few inches of organic mulch around plants and dividing watering cycles into shorter periods to reduce runoff. You can also water plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.

Not sure if your plants need water or not? A moisture meter tests the soil moisture so you only water when needed. We offer this handy tool for free through our online shopping cart. Visit and order yours today!

Lawns can be the single biggest water user for a typical property; a small lawn can use more than 18,000 gallons a year. That means lawns offer the greatest potential for water savings. Reducing outdoor watering to two days or less, as required by current regulations, can save up to 350 gallons per week. Better yet, turning off your irrigation altogether can save 1,000 gallons.

Drought is a way of life in Santa Clara County. Please make a difference for your community by evaluating your outdoor watering and join us in saying YES to saving water.

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