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Landscaping and Conservation
In the average household, water use doubles in the summer, primarily due to landscape irrigation. But, conserving water does not have to mean a dry, grown landscape.
Some Myths about Drought-Resistant Landscaping
- Drought-tolerant landscaping isn't colorful.
In truth, many drought-tolerant plants are prolific bloomers. In addition, by carefully choosing foliage colors and textures for contrast, you can bring color interest to the garden year-round.
- Drought-tolerant landscaping doesn't require any water at all.
Even drought-resistant plants require some initial watering to become established. However, once they are established, drought-resistant plants will get by on considerably less water than we have been accustomed to lavishing on our landscape.
How to Conserve
In the garden, try these water-conserving techniques:
- Use a variety of attractive low-water-using plants.
- Use a drip irrigation system to apply water slowly, reducing run-off and promoting deep rooting.
- Lay mulch, which can be made from readily available wood chips or leaf mold, act as a blanket to keep in moisture, and help prevent erosion, soil compression, and weeds.
- Preserve existing trees. Established plants are often adapted to low water conditions. Porous paving materials such as brick, decomposed granite, or gravel used in patios and walk-ways help keep water in the garden rather than in the gutter.
- Set automatic timing devices, which allow efficient watering on a schedule suited to each area of the landscape.
More Ways to Save Water in Your Garden
- Water in the cool parts of the day to cut down on evaporation.
- Add compost to your soil to improve its water-holding capacity.
- Check for and repair leaky hose connections and sprinkler valves. Small leaks can be very wasteful.
- Ask your nursery person about low-water-using turf, and raise your lawnmower cutting height. Longer grass blades help shade each other and cut down on evaporation.
- Don't over-water – water only when the soil is dry.
- Water trees and shrubs – which have deep root systems – longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants, which require smaller amounts of water or more often.
- When planting, remember that smaller-size container plants require less water to become established.
Use Recycled Water to Save Even More Water in Your Garden
Waste water may be the simplest way to stretch your water budget during the hot summer months. Gray water, which is recycled shower, bath, and laundry water, can be used to keep thirsty plants alive, but some precautions should be followed. Because gray water has not been disinfected, it could be contaminated. A careful, common-sense approach to the use of gray water, however, can virtually eliminate any potential hazard.
The following precautions are recommended:
- Never use gray water for direct consumption.
- Gray water should not be used directly on anything that may be eaten.
- Gray water should not be sprayed, allowed to puddle, or run off property.
- Use only water from clothes washing, bathing, or the bathroom sink. Do not use water that has come in contact with soiled diapers, meat or poultry, or anyone with an infectious disease.
Plant specialists warn that gray water should not be used on vegetables, seedlings, container plants, or acid-loving plants such as azaleas, begonias, camellias, and citrus trees. Gray water should be rotated with fresh water to leach out any harmful build-up. Chlorine bleach may damage plants, especially if it touches the foliage. Biodegradable soaps appear to have the least harmful effects.
For further information regarding the safe use of gray water, contact your local office or your local health agency.