A sprinkler system does the best job at watering lawns. Add a rain sensor to shut off the system when it rains. Remember, 1 inch per week is enough for most lawns. Water shrubs, and garden beds separately. Soaker hoses and drip systems are the most efficient method. Dig a few inches around plants and only water when the top 2 or 3 inches are dry. Make sure that water reaches the root zone.
See WSU's Gardening in Western Washington for gardening hints. Right Plant, Right Place by Nicola Ferguson and Sunset's The Western Garden Book are also excellent references.
Mulches can be inorganic, such as black plastic or rocks. Organic mulch is recommended however, as the mulch will break down and add nourishment to your soil. Some inorganic materials will actually absorb more sunlight and cause additional evaporation of water from the soil.
Mulching gardens 2 to 3 inches deep means less watering during even the hottest months. Organic mulches break down slowly amending the soil while slowing down weed growth and evaporation. Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to fertilize your lawn and decrease irrigation needs.
If you have an older, high flow-showerhead, replacing it means that your new water conserving showerheads will only use 2.5 gallons per minute and provide a comfortable shower.
Although high efficiency clothes washers are typically more expensive than traditional machines, they save you money over time by lowering your water and energy bills. They wring out your clothes better, so your drying time is reduced. They are also gentler on fabrics - so clothes, towels and linens don't wear out as fast. Efficient models can save up to 50% of water used for laundry.
Washington State law now requires you to use water efficient toilets when you replace or install a toilet. These toilets use only 1.6 gallons per flush compared to over 3 gallons per flush for older models. You can reduce the water you use to flush the toilet by almost 50%. Look for the WaterSense® label.
Fall is a great time for new lawns and plantings. This will give plants time to take advantage of rainfall to provide the extra water they will need until established.
Flushing toilets use the most water use in the home, followed by washing clothes and then showers.
Washington State Law mandates that low-flow toilets be installed in new construction or when replacing a toilet. These generally use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Older standard toilets use about 3 to 5 gallons of water per flush.