FACT: Less than 1% of all the water on earth can be used by humans. The rest is salt or frozen.
We’ve already discussed water conservation inside the home . Now let’s look outside where we can further reduce our total household consumption simply by exercising good garden work practices.
Many of them are passive, meaning that, once implemented, they require minimal oversight or effort on our part.
Let’s begin with landscaping your garden so that it’s water-use friendly. The fancy word for an enviro-friendly landscape is xeriscape.
- An easy step towards minimal water usage is to plant native species. They’re acclimatized, naturally insect repellant and we can choose shallow drinkers.
- Plant less lawn and more shrubs or ground cover (both available as native species).
- Plant in blocks instead of rows to create shade for root systems.
- Group plants with the same watering needs.
- Plant in the spring and fall when water needs are lower.
- Avoid planting in hard to water spots such as inclines or narrow strips and lay porous driveways and sidewalks that absorb rather than repel moisture.
- If the ground allows quick run-off, water at shorter, more frequent intervals.
- 2-4″ of organic mulch on planting beds can stabilize soil temperature, minimize evaporation, add nutrients to the soil and discourage weeds which complete with your plants for water and can increase watering needs by as much as 50% (that’s thousands of litres annually).
- Monitor your watering to be sure you are only irrigating what is intended.
- A properly designed and operated irrigation system can reduce water consumption by as much as 20% annually. Ask Veridis Plumbing and Heating Ltd. about having a drip and micro irrigation system installed to deliver water directly to the roots; this also controls run-off, puddling, and evaporation.
Lawns are lovely, but high maintenance, which means high water consumption.
- Turf grass is hardier and less thirsty than lawn grass.
- Allow your lawn to go brown (dormant) in the summer by watering every other week or less often, or during the height of summer, water dry spots rather than the entire lawn.
- Water manually with a kitchen timer in the cooler parts of the day, morning and evening.
- If using an automatic timer, remember to manually override it during periods of rain which can occur even in summer, and to shut the watering system off when the weather begins to turn in the fall. It’s common to see automated sprinklers continuing to water boulevards after the rainy season has begun because no one is paying attention.
Veridis Plumbing & Heating Ltd. can install a smart controller for your irrigation system. Smart indeed! They apply water based on the evapotranspiration rate by measuring the prevailing temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, etc.
General Watering Tips
- Landscaping and irrigation accounts for 25-50% of household water consumption. Make every drop count by watering only as necessary, not from habit.
- Over watering or under watering damages plant health. That said, less is more.
- Match watering to seasonal requirements, particularly during summer restrictions imposed by your municipality.
- Don’t water on windy days as it causes higher evaporation.
- Use soaker rather than spray hoses where possible for low-volume watering of flower beds.
- When using sprinklers be sure to water the desired targets rather than non-garden areas.
- Use spray nozzles that shut off on command. The average garden hose pours out 20 litres a minute.
- Periodically check hoses, taps and nozzles for leaks, particularly at the start of spring if you didn’t winterize your outdoor spigots. Leaking taps account for more than 15% of household water loss.
- Watering more deeply and less frequently increases root growth and drought tolerance.
- Create a rainwater collection system with barrels or direct the flow from your downspouts directly on to the garden.
- Wash your car on the lawn and shut off the hose between lathering and rinsing or use a commercial car wash that recycles it’s wash water.
- Sweep rather than hose off your driveway.
By reducing your household water consumption you will save on your utility bill, prolong the life of a septic field, and help to decrease the amount of energy required to pump and treat public water supplies.