"Our water efficient rebate program is basically a lawn removal program," said Rita Di Candia, Pleasanton's water conservation coordinator. "It's for a minimum of 250 square feet that you convert of front yard area."
The city recommends sheet mulching to remove unwanted lawn, which entails covering the grass with cardboard and mulch to break it down naturally. Details can be found at pleasantonwaterconservation.com.
Di Candia is available to answer residents' questions about water conservation; telephone 931-5513.
"People usually call when they've recently received a water bill that was pretty high and they want to bring it down," Di Candia said. "Lawn is the main culprit for outdoor landscape watering. Many people think it needs more water than it does."
Di Candia is also the point of contact for the city's Controller Assistance Program.
"Staff comes to your house and looks at how you are irrigating your landscaping, and they make recommendations on how you can change that," she said. "An average of 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water should be applied per week."
The city offers a Quick Guide to Proper Lawn Care at the utility billing counter, 3333 Busch Road. Tips include how to conduct a test using 10 containers of the same size to make sure a lawn is being watered enough and evenly.
"You may have the problem of over-watering in one area, or maybe need to add in another spray head rather than add five minutes to your time every day," Di Candia said.
The amount of watering needed depends on the weather and the time of year, she noted.
"Step on the grass. If it springs right up, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, it is stressed and needs water," she said. "You want to water the lawn just at the point that it is showing water stress."
Mowers should be set at 2-1/2 to 3 inches, Di Candia said, to provide shade but also to help roots grow deeper.
"More blade length produces more energy through photosynthesis," she explained.
The most important thing people can do for their non-lawn landscaping is to apply mulch, Di Candia said, which retains moisture so the plants don't need watering as frequently.
"Like you wouldn't build a house without insulation, don't design your landscaping and forget to include insulation to your soil -- mulch," she said. "You want to have a 2- to 3-inch layer minimum of mulch. Apply to areas that are just bare soil."
During the summer an estimated 30% to 70% of household water use is outdoors, according to www.smartirrigationmonth.org, and up to half can be lost to evaporation, watering non-plant areas and over-watering. July is Smart Irrigation Month, a good time to revisit your watering habits.
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