Water-Wise Gardening

Water-Wise Gardening
We can have great lawns and gardens and conserve water too.  Water-Wise is one of the strategies to achieving an environmentally conscious yard in the Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities program.

Local Water Facts
The Wichita area receives 32.62 inches of rainfall annually, but rainfall is not adequate for optimum growth in parts of the year.

Approximately 1/2 of all residential water use is on lawns and gardens during summer months.  By adopting Xeriscape Principles (low water landscape design and maintenance) we can significantly reduce water applications and still have attractive landscapes.  Practices such as core aeration of lawns and working in compost prior to planting will increase the infiltration of both rainfall and irrigation.  Trees, shrubs and landscape beds are mulched with woodchips to reduce water evaporation and increase plant growth.  Gardens are often mulched with leaves or wheat straw to conserve water.

Drip irrigation systems are an efficient method of watering landscape beds and gardens.  Water is not lost in the wind to evaporation as in overhead watering systems.

Water can be saved in turfgrass by selecting low water use grasses.  Buffalograss is our most drought tolerant grass and will go dormant during periods of drought then resume growth following rain or watering.


Water Quality
In parts of Sedgwick County we have problems with poor water quality for irrigation due to high levels of sodium or in total soluble salts.  Water from many wells are not suitable for irrigation and can cause long term damage to soils.  If you question the suitability of the water for irrigation (if plants are scorching or showing white residues on the foliage) bring a pint of water (use a plastic water bottle) to the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center for irrigation quality testing.  This is sent to K-State for analysis.  Cost for analysis is $12.50.


How Healthy is Your Yard?  Take the assessment.
Checklist for a Water-Wise Yard

For All Yards:

  • Landscape is designed to exist primarily on rainfall (30.38" per year in Wichita) once established.
  • Lawns, shrubs, flowers and fruit/vegetable gardens are watered only as necessary to sustain growth and plant health (in compliance with local water restrictions).
  • Watering is done early in the morning, or if done in the evening, completed at least 2 hours before dark.

For Irrigated Yards:

  • Functioning smart-irrigation technology is used, such as soil moisture and water loss sensors and/or other automated devices. 
  • Irrigation does not water sidewalks and driveways.
  • System is set to apply 1 to 1 1/2  inches of water per week.
  • Separate zones for lawn and landscape areas are maintained.
  • Rain shut-off device is installed and is working properly.
  • Drip or micro-irrigation is installed in shrub / flower beds and fruit / vegetable gardens.
  • If smart-irrigation sensors are not present, rain gauge is used to monitor rainfall.
  • Proper backflow devices are in place.

For Non-irrigated Yards:

  • Turf is allowed to go dormant during dry periods.
  • Lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers and fruit / vegetable gardens are only watered deeply and infrequently.
  • A rain gauge is used to monitor rainfall.






Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens are designed to reduce the runoff leaving landscapes and act as a biofilter for the sediments and other pollutants in runoff water. As much as 30% more water infiltrates than in a flat or sloped area and reduces flooding downstream. Ponding should last no more than 48 hours.


Rain Garden