Downloadable PDF version of this resource

Feel like you’re throwing money down the drain??? Help is on the way!!! Montana State University Extension Water Quality and the City of Bozeman Water and Sewer Department have put together some WATER SAVING TIPS to help conserve water and save you money!

Outside and Around Your Home

FYI…you’re summer wastewater charge is based on your winter water use so conserving water indoors during the
winter can save you money in the summer! 

Timing is Everything

  • If you water your lawn under the hot midday sun, you could lose as much as 30% of your water to evaporation!! Water early in the evening or morning to reduce evaporation, DON’T water late at night or plants may develop fungus from being wet and cold all night.
  • If it’s windy…wait to water. This will reduce evaporative loss!
  • Your lawn can only absorb so much water before it starts to run-off, taking valuable topsoil with it. Instead of watering for 30 minutes at a time – three 10 minute sessions a half hour apart or 15 minutes in the morning and evening will allow more water to soak in.
  •  Don’t over-water your lawn – in general it only needs water every 3-5 days.
  •  If you’re on a timer system – make sure it’s in good working condition and turn it off when it’s raining – this will save water and reduce run-off. 

Drip vs. Sprinkle

  • Drip or trickle hoses have many tiny holes and can be placed directly beside plants. This minimizes evaporative loss and puts water only where it is needed. Plus, you can water for 30 minutes without causing wasteful run-off.
  • If you do use sprinklers, position them so you’re not watering the sidewalk or street.
  • You can get ‘double-duty’ out of you sprinkler by letting the kids play in the water while watering the lawn. FYI…This is NOT a good idea when watering the garden. 

Grass is Cool - Literally!

Use a mulching mower and leave your grass clippings on the lawn. The mulched clippings are fertilizer for the grass, keep the soil cooler, shade roots and help reduce evaporative loss. Keeping your grass at least 2 inches high, aerating your lawn regularly a mulching around plants can accomplish the same thing witho mulching mower. 

Trees and Gardens

  • Water slowly (drip or trickle hoses), thoroughly (leave it there for ½ - 1 hour) and less often (1X/week) to promote deep root systems. You can also put a few inches of mulch on your garden or around trees to keep the soil cooler, shade roots and reduce evaporative loss.
  • When you clean the fish tank SAVE THE WATER and put it on your garden – the green algae and fish poo are high in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen – and your plants will thank you.
  • Choose plants that are more suited to your climate and soil type. There are a wide variety of water-conscious, native trees, shrubs and ornamentals to choose from. A local nursery provided us with a list of native perennials, grasses, trees and shrubs which require less than our city average of 14-15 inches of rain/year. Penstemons, Pussytoes, Kinnickinnick, Yarrow, and Blue Flax are native perennials with bright flowers; Indian Rice Grass, Idaho Fescue and Green needlegrass are native ornamental grasses and Mountain Mahogany, Junipers, Chokecherries, Sumacs and Currants are native shrubs. 
    • For more info contact the Montana State University Extension Horticulture Specialist at or the folks at any of your local garden centers, nurseries or tree farms. The Montana Native Plant Society (MNPS) has a publication that lists suppliers of Montana native species. “Source Guide for Native Plants of Montana”. MNPS is on the web at or write them at: MNPS Publications 1270 Lower Sweet Grass Road, Big Timber, MT 59011

Rainbarrels – Raingardens – Xeriscaping

  • Collect rainwater for plants and outdoor uses with a barrel or tub.
  • Raingardens are a beautiful way to conserve water, reduce run-off and potential water pollution while replenishing groundwater resources.
  • Xeriscaping is low maintenance, water wise landscaping that does NOT sacrifice beauty and color. Xeriscaping stresses proper soil preparation, efficient irrigation, and the use of water stingy plants. For more information, visit

Cleaning and Washing

  • Use a broom to clean your driveways, patios and decks rather than the hose – hoses use an average of 25 gallons of water every 5 minutes! If you do need water – get a power sprayer – it will do twice the work in half the time (and water!)
  • When washing the car/bike/dog/muddy kids: wash them on the lawn to save on watering it later and use a bucket instead of running the hose (saves ~5 gallons/minute) or go to a commercial car wash that recycles water (not recommended for washing the kids).
  • Consider buying detergents that are low in phosphorus – phosphorus promotes algae growth which can cause a reduction of dissolved oxygen (DO) – and reduced DO is not necessarily a good thing.

Pool Time!!

  • If you have a swimming pool make sure you cover it…you’ll cut your losses due to evaporation by 90% and save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month!!!
  • Routinely check your pool or spa for leaks and have them repaired properly.
  • If you have a hot tub – depending on the type of chemical you use you can drain it onto your lawn or garden and save water/energy and money! 

Picnic in the Park?

Going on a picnic, to a concert, to the park or beach? Taking a cooler full of ice? DON’T DUMP THE WATER OUT! Save it and water your garden, houseplants or pets.