Michele, a self-proclaimed medium green, combines her enthusiasm for communicating about the green industry, with a deep appreciation for all things gardening. Her blogs provide information from the homeowner’s perspective, moving between what works now and what the future might hold.
The rapid global environmental changes taking place are causing more people to be concerned with conserving water in the home. Statistics show that more than half of the water consumed in the average household is used outdoors. Did you know a family of four uses roughly 1,000 gallons/day of water? NASA estimated that 238 gallons of water per person, per day is used on lawns across the country. Simple steps can be taken to use water efficiently and minimize waste in your lawn and garden.
Homeowners love seeing lush lawns, but a lawn is a huge water consumer. According to the Lawn Institute, turfgrass covers nearly 47 million acres in the U.S. Here are a few ways to reduce the amount of water used on a lawn.
- Match your climate and site conditions when selecting a turf mix or blend. Consider the maintenance required, your climate, if the grass is suited for drought or shade and wear resistance.
- Let your lawn go dormant during the summer. Dormant grass only needs to be watered every three weeks or less if it rains.
- Water your lawn in the morning, preferably before 10 a.m. when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation. Do not water on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
- Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
- Use a rain gauge, or empty tuna can, to track rainfall on your lawn. Then reduce your watering accordingly.
- Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller water drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
With our increasingly hot summers it has become more important to keep an eye on the water that gets used in the garden. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, converting to a water-efficient landscape can reduce your outdoor water use by 20 percent to 50 percent, or as much as 10,000 gallons a year. Here are a couple of ways to trim your water bill when it comes to the garden.
- Choose native plants. If you replace a water-intensive 100 square foot garden with native plants, you could save more than 500 gallons a week. These survivors have adapted to their environment, needing less water. Native plants tend to have deeper roots that are able to find water deep in the soil.
- Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid over watering some while under watering others.
- Use a trowel, shovel, soil probe or your finger to examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry, it's time to water.
- Water only when necessary. More plants die from over watering than from under watering.
- Collect water from your roof with a rain barrel and use it in your garden.
- Use a drip irrigation system to ensure that a minimal amount of water is used.
- Place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants in hanging baskets, planters and pots a drink, and help eliminate water overflow.
- Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.