Water Wise Lawns and Irrigation

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water conservation
Attention: Drought warning restrictions are no longer in effect for the City of Charlottesville. For more info on droughts see the Drought Page.

A Healthy Lawn Is a Water Wise Lawn


No plant takes a beating like turf grass.  Running kids, rolling dogs, barbeque traffic and the occasional parked car - a healthy lawn can survive.  Just try doing that with a bed of geraniums.  But nothing else quite takes up the resources of a lawn either. (If turf grass were an agricultural crop, it would have more dedicated acreage than any other crop in the United States. *source)  The Environmental Protection Agency cites landscape watering as one of our biggest water uses.  In some parts of the country, watering all that grass can exceed 60% of a family's water bill.  Right here in Charlottesville, our average summer water usage is 20% higher than in winter.  In an extreme summer like 2010, it means irrigation causes us to go through an extra couple of million gallons of water - per day!

It doesn't have to be that way.  A healthy lawn is a water wise lawn.  The goal of this page is to share information on how to make your lawn attractive, useful and oh so water efficient.


Grass species, Lawn Care, and Soil Health

 In order to best suit your interests, click on one of the following links to open a document with detailed information and resources about the following topics:

Description of Cool and Warm Season Grasses

Common Grasses in the Charlottesville Region, which should I choose?

Fertilizer and Best Practices for Lawn Care

What is the best way to get my healthy lawn growing?

Soil Health: Weeds, Bugs, and Disease


  Brown Grass



A lot of grasses go dormant and turn brown in summer heat, and the past few summers were scorchers.  Healthy turf can make it through such conditions with minimal irrigation, and still bounce back in the fall. And if your turf isn't healthy? Fall is the ideal time to revamp your lawn so start making plans now. Keep reading this page to learn how to remake your yard as a hardy survivor of future hot spells. You may also want to read the article: Lawn Recovery From Drought by the experts at the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Water Wise Irrigation

 Learn to Conserve Water and Maintain a Beautiful Landscape!


Did you know that grass only needs an 1" of water per week in the summer? Or that of the 7.1 billion gallons a day multiple sprinklersAmericans use to irrigate with in the summer, half is wasted

Take a look at the information on this page to learn how to keep your yard beautiful without wasting water. For even more information, visit the Irrigation Association or take a look at the brochure provided by the Environmental Protection Agency:  Watering Can Be Efficient




It takes 27,154 gallons of water to cover an area of 1 acre with 1" of water. That means even if you're watering just the recommended amount, you're still using over 108,000 gallons of water a month on your lawn! WS look promo

 Looking for irrigation services? Then check out the list of WaterSense certified pros on the Environmental Protection Agency's website. These professionals are certified through WaterSense programs as being knowledgeable in water efficient irrigation techniques and technologies. What is WaterSense? It's a program very similar to EnergyStar, offering third party verification that products or services can save you more water than conventional options.



As of March 8, 2010, here are the WaterSense certified professionals that work in the Charlottesville area:

Roger Barden



Jeffrey Bowman



Bert Cottrell



Clayton Scott Duncan



Thomas Edwards



Stacy Gardner



J. Felice Hall



Maxi Senderowitsch



Kenny Shiflett



Brett Snyder



Michael Temple



Brian Vinchesi




* Here's where we put the official disclaimer - the names listed above are for your convenient reference. The City makes no warranty, guarantee, pledge, promise, solemn vow, pinkie swear or anything else about the services or results you may obtain from contacting the individuals or companies listed above.

Interested in learning more about automatic irrigation timers? Click here to open a document for more information and efficiency tips.



Guidelines for Plant Watering Needs:

Below are general values for the amount typically needed by different types of established plants. New plants will need more water. If you are installing your plants at the same time as your irrigation system, and your system is set high for those new plants, you must reset it after they are established to avoid a complete and ongoing waste of water.

Type of Plant Water Needed (inches per week)
Shrub .25 - .75
Groundcover 0 - .50
Annuals .5 - 2.00
Trees 5 Gallons per caliper inch
Transplanted Trees 10 Gallons per caliper inch
Native Plants 0 - .50
Asphalt NONE


Information provided from a class by the Irrigation Association



You may also be interested in the following City page: Water Wise Plants 

  There's nothing like going to the source. The vast majority of the information for this page comes from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, a state agency. Citizens are encouraged to pay a visit to their local office in Charlottesville and visit the very informative Extension website, including the page dedicated to lawns. It is updated with new information regularly and includes turf research, detailed best management practices and recommendations on which brands of seed to purchase.  Other information came from:

*Vickers, Amy. Handbook of Water Use and Conservation.  Amherst, MA: Waterplow Press, 2001.  Page 145.


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