SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Conserving water doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, according to BYU civil and construction engineering professor Rob Sowby.

“As you apply more water the health of the landscape improves up to a point but then it declines after that,” he said. 

Sowby conducted a study by using aerial photography of land parcels and mining the secondary water bills of thousands of anonymous customers in two Utah county cities with different water rates.

He found about half of the people in the study were overwatering their lawns and found when we water too much, it’s unhealthy for the lawns.

“In some cases, the most saturated landscapes were just as unhealthy as the dry landscapes. They looked the same. They had the same kind of health signature, but way different amounts of water,” said Sowby. “If you want to know how much to irrigate, you should follow the division of water resources weekly lawn watering guide, which they update every week on their website.”

There are also alternatives to having a standard lawn, according to Rodrigo Vega, the CEO of Utah Wildflower, a landscaping company.

“Two-thirds of the water you consume on your bill, you use that outside,” said Vega.

Vega said designing landscapes to require little or no irrigation, called xeriscaping, can help people cut down their water use by about 70%. He said people don’t have to get rid of all their grass, but even xeriscaping parts of your lawn can be helpful in conserving water, without sacrificing how your yard looks.

“There’s a program called localscapes where you get rebates for removing grass. You have nurseries that specialize in water-wise plants.”