By Donna Mazzitelli
“It boils down to each individual acknowledging her personal responsibility to conserve water.” This is a quote from last issue’s article, “In-Home Water Conservation.” During these hot summer months, it’s even more essential that we look at the ways we use water, most especially in our yards and gardens. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your water usage in check.
- Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants. Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. As you organize shrubs and plants, group them according to their watering needs.
- If you are planting a new lawn this summer, or reseeding an existing lawn, look for drought-resistant grasses. According to a 2008 NASA study on lawns, 50,000 square miles of grass covers the United States, the watering of which the EPA estimates accounts for one-third of Americans’ water usage. Depending upon where you live, there can be many drought-resistant choices available to you.
- Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants require less water and are more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying xeriscape principles for a low-maintenance, drought-resistant yard. If your yard slopes, look for plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff.
- Speaking of runoff, don’t water the gutter. Position your sprinklers so that the water lands on the lawn or garden, and not on paved areas.
- Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Mulch slows down the evaporation of moisture and discourages weed growth. Adding 2 – 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
- Water your lawn only when needed. To determine if your lawn needs watering, step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move away, it doesn’t need watering. If it stays flat, it does. Let your grass grow to about 3 inches, which will promote water retention in the soil.
- Deep-soak your lawn when watering. Water long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots. A light sprinkling will usually evaporate quickly and encourages shallow root systems. One way to measure whether you’ve soaked your lawn enough is to place an empty tuna can on your lawn. Once it’s full, you’ve watered about the right amount.
- Water during the early parts of the day; avoid watering when it’s windy when the water is blown off target and evaporates more quickly. Early morning is generally better than dusk, since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering and late watering also reduce water loss to evaporation. If your sprinklers are on timers, remember to turn off your sprinkler system on rainy days.
- Use efficient watering systems. You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by using soaker hoses, a rain barrel water catchment system (if legal in your town) and drip irrigation. When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering.
10.If you wash your car at home, don’t run the hose while washing. Use a pail of soapy water to wash the car and use the hose with a spray nozzle for rinsing.
11.People often use their hoses to wash down driveways and sidewalks. Use a broom instead.
Water conservation can become a natural habit when everyone in the family is aware of its importance. Simple, ongoing water-saving practices around the home and in our yards can make a big difference in preserving this precious commodity.
Donna Mazzitelli was a contributing author to Speaking Your Truth, Vols. I and II, and editor of Vol. III. As The Word Heartiste, Donna helps others connect to their stories and craft them with heart. She started Merry Dissonance Press in mid-2013 to assist writers in publishing works of transformation, inspiration, exploration, and illumination. Learn more at www.writingwithdonna.com and www.merrydissonancepress.com.