My wife and I have a lot size of .7 acres and it is fully landscaped with mostly drought tolerant plants. When it was originally landscaped 10 years ago, the landscape architect used mostly 1 gallon and a few 5 gallon plants. What we have found over time is the 1 gallon plants that looked so small and were planted close together have grown up into large plants that grow into each other. We have a process we call "editing" where we walk around the yard and see what plants are adding "value" and what plants aren't! When we first started this process several years ago I estimated we had 900 plants in our yard. I now estimate we have 700 plants due to our "editing" and in fact we are happier with the look of the landscape now. You can see the plants that are left, they aren't hidden or damaging others because they have grown into each other. Why do we edit? The main reason is to reduce our water usage on plants that in our estimation no longer add value to our home's curb appeal. Water rates continue to go up every year and I hate to pay for what we really don't need, so editing provides a value to us.
This weekend I have been "editing". I have probably removed 30 plants that we perceived had no value to the look of our landscape any longer. The first thing I do is find where the drip lines are to those plants and uncover them so I don't damage any lines when I dig out the plant. Next, I dig out the plant, and then remove the drip line from the main hose and plug it. In our case each plant has 2 each two gallon/hour drip emitters, so in this editing process I removed 60 drip emitters that were emitting approximately 60 gallons per week based on my irrigation controller's schedule. Over a month that is a savings of 240 gallons and in six month that saves 1,560 gallons. My wife and I try to edit several times per year.
While I was editing, I decided to open my valve boxes and turn the system on to make sure I plugged all the drip lines I removed. In the process of doing that I found one of the valves in my valve box was leaking! I called my landscape guy who was working at another home in our neighborhood and he came over about 30 minutes later. He tightened the nuts on the valve to clamp down the gasket further and that stopped the leak. I checked the other valve boxes while he was here and noticed a second leak. He tightened that one as well. I will check back later to make sure that really solved the problem. I don't really know how much water was leaking per day, but if it was 1 gallon per day on two leaky valves then we stopped another 60 gallons per month from leaking.
Below I have some pictures of how my yard looked this morning and the leaks I found in the irrigation box. I know we will keep "editing" to reduce our water usage, but I will also be checking my valve boxes more regularly as well.