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Irrigation and Landscaping


Problem – What’s the worry about water?

We live in the high mountain desert where water has been scarce throughout US history.  The impacts of climate change have not only continued to warm our growing zone but will continue to change the overall weather patterns that bring extreme weather variations (i.e., lengthy periods of heat, cold, drought and floods) to our yards and our lives.  

Climate Change adds a sense of urgency to our efforts to live more sustainably in our lives as in our yards as we make every effort to slow the changes.  At the same time, we need to develop more resilient systems in order to withstand the uncertain extremes to come.

Practicing smart landscape planning, maintenance, and water use will protect our most precious of natural resources, our local wildlife, our community, our potential food sources and, importantly, maintain sufficient water to fight wildfires as they come.  


Surprising Numbers -


70% of our valley’s annual water consumption (City and well water) is used for landscape irrigation.  This is more than twice the national average.


  • 12-18 Inches - Total moisture falling each year in Wood River Valley - mostly from snow

  • 9 billion gallons of water/day for lawns in US.  (17 million gallons of gas to mow)

  • 100 gallons- Amount of water used by average sprinkler system in 10 minutes.

  • 20-50%  Water saved by using drip irrigation on gardens, shrubs and trees instead of a sprinkler systems

  • Topsoil that is 25% compost can hold 4X more water for your plants.


What can you do?

  •  Plan your garden and plant choices with water use in mind

  • New homes or yard areas should put down 6-12 inches of topsoil (1 part compost/ 3 parts local topsoil) before any planting or irrigation goes in.

  • Water your yard only in the cool of the morning or evening and adjust sprinklers monthly

  • Mulch all bare ground 4-6 inches deep to hold moisture and keep soil cooler

  • Deep watering less often will force your plant roots to go deeper to follow the water 

  • Put more of your yard into low water gardens, shrubs and trees - using with drip irrigation

  • Long roots of native plants sustain them through drought and pull carbon deep into soil vs. shallow (2-4 inch roots of lawn)

  • Plant no/low-mow grasses and meadows in your yard and reduce water to that zone 

  • Permeable pavers allow rain to filter through earth vs run off and erosion


Want more info?  Links below!

Guidelines developed by local professionals for developing your own property to use water most efficiently.

Drought friendly trees, shrubs and grass list from the Wood River Land Trust 

A good website for a wide range of water issues

Some great tips for water saving practices and efficient alternatives


Books –

Grow More with Less; Less water-Less work-Less Money   by Vincent A. Simeone 

(635.048 – Hailey Library)

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