Much of southern California is getting into stricter water restrictions right now, with a goal of cutting all water use by at least 20%. That’s a tough goal when you consider how many people have already been conserving. Most lawns in our area show it.
The typical restriction is along the lines of allowing people to water on certain days of the week between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., and limiting sprinkler time to 10 minutes. Also they want people to keep an eye out for obvious water wastes, such as broken sprinklers, obvious leaks and sprinklers spraying more on sidewalks or streets than they should.
These restrictions are pretty good for cutting back water use for irrigation, which is a huge part of residential water use.
For the best results for your lawn, you need to water about 1 inch per week. That’s easy enough to measure if you put out an open, empty tuna can. If you can do it in one shot you should be able to reach the deeper roots of grass, which is the most effective.
Believe me when I say I don’t water mine this much, and it’s kind of brown. But my garden looks good.
Mowing less is also good. Taller grass shades the soil, and so less water evaporates from it. The grass also is then able to better stand getting less water.
My own favorite tip is to find more native plants to put in, rather than your typical lawn. There are grasses that do better with less water. My city suggests a list of plants that are California-friendly (PDF, pretty big). They also suggest only maintaining as much lawn as you need, and having drought resistant plants for the rest of the yard.