This is a long lost post from the 20somethingfinance archives. I wrote it a few years ago, and for whatever reason, it was lost and never published. The dates are old, but the lesson learned is extremely relevant, as we enter the spring and summer seasons.
Because of this lesson learned, we have since dramatically cut our lawn watering, as we have gradually replaced more and more of our lawn with mulched gardens. Grass is horribly inefficient and only looks good 3 months out of the year, max. Replacing with gardens is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment and save money in the process. If you’re interested in more tips like this, check out my recent post on 10 easy ways to save the planet and money.
How Much Does Watering your Lawn Cost?
I knew that watering lawns was a huge waste of water. But I reluctantly chose to do so anyways because burnt brown grass looks awful. How much water was I wasting? I just recently found out, and I couldn’t believe it.
I was digging through my water bill this past weekend as I discovered that my city water utility has a nifty little online tool to compare water usage month-by-month, and year by year. I had no intention of finding anything shocking in the analysis, but I did.
Comparing my water usage from May 13 – August 11th, 2010 period to the same period a year ago, I used only 9,724 gallons of water versus a whopping 19,448 last year. Wow! My usage was more than cut in half over the three month periods. Here’s a screenshot:
Drilling down further, I found something even more shocking. The difference was almost entirely from the month of May, 2009.
My water usage this May fell to 2,251 gallons compared to a relatively ridiculous 8,700 gallons in May of last year. That’s just one-quarter of last year!
Why such a drop?
Then I remembered. I watered my lawn every other day last year because my wife and I chose to lay new sod in my front yard.
What’s more is that I even watered my lawn this May a few times (let’s estimate 3), for a net addition of 12 waterings last year.
And the craziest thing about it is that my front can be completely covered by moving my sprinkler just once. I was only watering for 15 minutes at each location.
The result? Watering my lawn an additional 12 times for a total of 30 minutes each time quadrupled my water usage in one month! Forget the showers, dishes, drinking tap water, the laundry, the toilet flushing, it was all relatively insignificant in comparison.
Making the Decision to Water Your Lawn is About More than Just Actual Cost
How much did all that lawn watering cost me over the month? Maybe $10 or so. Water from utilities in the U.S. is cheap. Ridiculously cheap to the point that cost is typically not a factor in many states (when you drill down into your water bill, sewer and storm water surcharges make up the majority of your total utility cost).
The environmental/ethical cost of watering your lawn? That can be a bit more expensive. In order to keep a lawn looking nice, it requires a lot of water and usually expensive fertilizers that are harsh on the environment, and re-seeding. We’re already dealing with massive water shortages and droughts here in this country, particularly in the Western U.S. If every single American household quadrupled their water usage just to have slightly greener lawns, just think of where we would be. My advice to you: think twice before choosing grass over a garden. And if you have grass, convert to gardens as soon as you can. There could be a whole lot more than your finances riding on it.