Be a Wise Waterer

01 Aug Be a Wise Waterer

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Follow these easy tips to become a eco-friendly “wise waterer”!

Watering your plants is important to their health and well-being.  It’s possible to have a beautiful, productive garden and still reduce your water consumption.

Hose with care. Use a hose with an on/off nozzle. One unattended hose can pour out 600 gallons of water an hour. Twenty unattended hoses can spew out enough water in an hour to fill a small swimming pool.

Build healthy soil. Add organic matter in the form of compost, composted manure or chopped leaves to your soil. Sandy soil allows water to pass through too rapidly, while clay soil holds water. Compost will improve the water holding capacity of either type of soil as well as improve the texture. Add at least an inch of compost a year.

Get rid of — or shrink — your lawn. The typical lawn requires 3,000 gallons of water per month. If just 25 people got rid of their lawns, it would save 75,000 gallons — enough water for the daily needs of 1,086 people. Consider planting ground covers or low maintenance perennials in some areas.

Mulch it. Mulch that’s two-to-three inches thick greatly reduces plants’ water requirements. Mulch helps block weeds and reduces evaporation.

Plant native plants.After they’re established, many require no supplemental irrigation. Replacing one water-hogging plant with a drought-tolerant one can save 550 gallons of water a year.

Don’t assume that wilting plants always need water. Many plants undergo natural “incipient wilting” in the middle of a hot, sunny day (much like us), but perk up in the late afternoon (also like us.)

Make a clean sweep. It takes about 80 gallons to clean a patio with a hose. Instead, use a broom and get some exercise at the same time.

Redirect rain water from gutters into a rain barrel, typically a 55 gallon plastic container which looks like a garbage can with a spigot for a hose. Even simpler, redirect gutters to spill water away from paved areas to where its needed, on flower beds, trees and shrubs.

Dig a rain “sink” or swale area.Use earth berms to redirect rainwater runoff from driveways and patios to this low area where it can collect and seep into the ground instead of being sent to storm water drains in the street.

Use soaker hoses. and drip irrigation. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are efficient. They ensure that up to 90% of the water is actually available to plants. Sprinklers are only 40-50% efficient.

Encourage soaking. The rain that falls onto your yard should soak into your yard, not run off into the street. Use bricks, pavers, gravel or grass for patios and driveways, which allow rainwater to seep into the ground.

Use free water. Are you using a dehumidifier to keep the basement dry? Instead of dumping the collected water down the drain, use it to water plants.

Plan. Plan. Plan. Take advantages of site characteristics such as shade, sun, wind and soil type. Group plants with similar needs in the same areas. Choose native plants that are adapted to your soil and climate.

Take care of your plants. Healthy plants require less water. Once a plant becomes stressed it requires more fertilizer, pest controls and ultimately more water.