Outdoor Conservation

Rainwater and grey water can be used for your landscaping to reduce your overall consumption.

If you have questions, call the water conservation office at (928) 213-2116.

Harvesting Rainwater

The City no longer sells rain barrels… but we do offer rebates on rainwater harvesting tanks! If you are a City water customer and plan to install (or have already installed) a rainwater harvesting system of at least 1,000 gallons, you may qualify. You can still purchase rain barrels at local nurseries and supply stores. Warner’s Nursery and Flagstaff Native Plant & Seed report that they sell 50-gallon rain barrels. CAL Ranch and Tractor Supply also sell them.

Using Grey Water

Grey water is wastewater, collected separately from your sewage flow, that originates from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower, or sink — but not from a kitchen sink, dishwasher, or toilet. Rules established by the State of Arizona allow you to collect up to 400 gallons of grey water per day.


Residential landscape irrigation is Flagstaff’s single largest water use during our dry summer months. Xeriscaping can play a major role in our efforts to conserve valuable water supplies. In addition, it is an effective way to maintain your landscape’s aesthetic appeal during periods of extended drought. There are seven principles of xeriscaping:

1—Plan and design. Take the time to plan before you plant. Create different water-use zones and choose appropriate plants; consider variety, size, texture, color, and bloom time. Water zones are moderate (weekly or more irrigation; for practical and economical reasons, place plants with the highest water needs closest to the home); low (monthly irrigation); and very low (little or no irrigation once established).

2—Design practical turf areas. Turf grasses are more expensive and intensive to maintain than most other landscape plants. Limit the size of lawn areas to an amount you will actually use. Plant a low-water alternative like Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) instead of thirsty Kentucky Blue Grass (Poa pratensis).

3—Work with your soil. If necessary, amend your soil with organic matter such as compost or aged manure prior to planting. Be aware that some native plants may not benefit from additions of organic matter; loosening the soil may be all that is needed.

4—Use appropriate plants. Choose native plants and plants with low water needs whenever possible. Group plants with similar water requirements, placing them in the appropriate water zone.

5—Cover the soil. Covering the soil with mulch/stone will provide a protective layer to retain moisture, prevent erosion, reduce weeds, and provide a finished look to the garden.

6—Irrigate efficiently. Water deeply and less often. Even low water plants can become water hogs when over-watered. Watering in the morning or late night will reduce evaporative loss. Up to 50% of the water used for irrigation is wasted by over-watering and evaporation.

7—Maintain your landscape. A properly maintained landscape conserves water. Check irrigation systems regularly to make sure they are working correctly, and adjust timers as the seasons change and plants become established.

Visit the City’s xeriscape demonstration garden at the Milligan House next to City Hall at 211 W. Aspen Avenue. This garden demonstrates water conservation through proper irrigation methods, low-water-use plants, and xeric landscape design. It was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Water Conservation Field Services Program, Phoenix Area Office) and the City of Flagstaff. Design work was by Schaafsma Design.


We recommend The Water-wise Home by Laura Allen for information about rainwater harvesting, grey water reuse, and other helpful ways to save water. This book provides detailed information on setting up rainwater tanks, winterizing them, and avoiding common mistakes.