If you hold your breath and say a little prayer before opening summer water bills, perhaps it’s time to see if your landscaping can help you lower those costs. Not only is water expensive, but it is a commodity that should be preserved and rationed. There are some fun and easy ways you can save water in your garden that will cut those bills down significantly.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), 30-70% of the water we use is outside in our gardens. The disparity is due to time of year, so we can assume that nearly 70% is being used in summer. That is a lot of water and the rates go up during that high use period. So, what can we do to conserve water and save some of that outgoing money? Here are 7 smart tricks that can help save you money when watering:
1. Rethink your landscape plants. The way in which we landscape is one part of the puzzle. Using drought tolerant plants can lower costs dramatically. Trees can provide some shade and prevent evaporation of portions of the garden where the understory plants can tolerate lower light.
2. Reconsider your lawn areas. Turf grass is a huge water waster but can be replaced with lawn alternatives like groundcovers or moss. If you want turf grass, use a timed water system to prevent overwatering and set it for cooler periods, like early morning to late evening, when all the water won’t be evaporated as quickly.
3. Forget about sprinkler systems. Another important step to take when managing water use is in how we water. In addition to timers and irrigating during cooler periods, consider watering directly by hand instead. This avoids saturating unnecessary areas such as paths and drought tolerant beds, putting the water exactly where it’s needed.
4. Forgo the lawn watering altogether. The grass doesn’t always have to be greener. In the northern part of North America, many regions can simply let their lawn go dormant. It will get green again in autumn when precipitation occurs naturally. Aerating, setting the mower high and allowing clippings to fall and compost into the thatch will also help lawns thrive without additional moisture.
5. Set soaker hoses and driplines. Since sprinkler systems can lead to more evaporation or saturate other unintended areas and hand watering can be time consuming in larger sites, you may want to opt for using soaker hoses and driplines. These will deliver the most efficient and direct water, straight to the roots, preventing runoff and waste.
6. Water deeply but less often. Many people tend to water far more than is necessary. On average, most plants, including the lawn, can get by with about an inch (2.5 cm.) or so of water each week – and this includes what rain provides. When you do irrigate, it’s better to do so for longer periods, to penetrate deeper into the soil, less often than to continually water every day. This helps plants develop deep root systems so they can find the water they need themselves.
7. Remember that mulch is your friend. Adding at least 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm.) of mulch in the garden can save on water costs. Use mulch between plants to prevent evaporation and conserve soil moisture.
There are many more tips on how to conserve water, such as using rain barrels and graywater, but these are simple suggestions that anyone can follow and won’t take a lot of work. The water bill will be proof your attention was worthwhile.