Wednesday, September 1, 2010

10 Tips to Conserve Water Outside

1) Mulch your gardens - Mulch is great for retaining moisture, helping your plants through times of heat and drought.

2) Mow your grass to the right height - The taller the grass blade, the deeper the root system becomes. Grass with deeper roots is more drought-resistant.

3) Water at the right times - Watering in the early morning or late evening when temperatures and wind speeds are the lowest will reduce water loss through evaporation.

4) Calibrate your irrigation system - A few tuna cans can help you calibrate your irrigation system so you know how long to irrigate

5) Install micro-irrigation - Install a drip or other water conserving irrigation system. Slow drip and deep root watering systems can save up to 60% of all water used in garden care. Professionally installed and maintained irrigation systems will further help conserve water.

6) Install rain barrels - Rain barrels collect and save rain, which provides wonderful pure fresh water for plants and landscapes. A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months

7) Use permeable surfaces- pavers, gravel and other permeable surfaces help keep the water where it belongs - in your yard!

8 ) Choose an eco-friendly landscape company- a good eco-friendly landscape company can help you save water and prevent stormwater pollution

9) Find a WaterSense Irrigation Contractor- All too often, landscape irrigation wastes water—up to 1.5 billion gallons every day across the country. WaterSense irrigation partners can help you reduce your water consumption, save money, and maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape.

10) Shower outside! - I've known for a long time that my friend Paula has an outdoor shower. I always thought she added it because they have three people living in a one bathroom home. But yesterday she told me the wonderful added benefit of allowing all the water from her shower to soak into her lawn and landscape!

Why are the good looking ones so naughty?

Back in July, I wrote about the 12 Relationship Rules for Gardeners. This tongue in cheek post compared the challenges of creating a healthy landscape with the challenges of building a healthy relationship.

Rule number 7 mentioned that choices based on looks alone are often more trouble than they are worth. Such is often the case when we add non-native, invasive species to our landscapes.

As defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Invasive plants are introduced species that can thrive in areas beyond their natural range of dispersal. These plants are characteristically adaptable, aggressive, and have a high reproductive capacity. Their vigor combined with a lack of natural enemies often leads to outbreak populations.

As gardeners, it is sometimes tempting to want to add some of these plants to our landscape. After all, a plant that self-propagates or spreads to quickly fill in a large area can seem like a good thing. But once invasive plants take over our native plants, the result can be:
  • an area's natural biodiversity is destroyed
  • native plants can eventually become permanently eliminated
  • the animals that need native plants for food and habitat cannot use many of the non-native ones
  • it can costs billions of dollars to control invasive exotic plants
Native plants, on the other hand, generally require less water and less chemicals, which make them much friendlier for the local environment.

Once you decide to start creating a more eco-friendly garden, some of the decisions you have to make may be tough ones. But in the long run, choosing native plants, or at least NON-invasive species, will be much better for the environment and much easier to maintain.

Here are links for more information about invasive plant species in the area:

Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland

Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (pdf file)

Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (pdf file)

Website by Water Words That Work LLC