We should always be mindful of our water consumption, but this is especially important during the summer, when recreational and landscaping water usage greatly increase. This past June was abnormally dry in the greater Washington area, and over the last few weeks we have begun to hear that dreaded word: drought.
Here are a few tips for conserving water. Taking action may have other benefits, too!
- Reduce or replace your turf grass. You can find beautiful, drought-tolerant ground covers that don’t need watering (or mowing). Stepables.com has a large variety of ground covers for you to view for turf-free inspiration.
- Keep your turf at least 3 inches high. If you do have a lawn, adjust your mower to its highest setting. Longer grass is healthier and less prone to scorching. It shades the soil underneath and thus reduces evaporation and the need for frequent irrigation.
- Use your sprinkler system efficiently. Ensure that your sprinklers are not spraying your house, driveway, deck/patio or the street. If you have an automatic system, water early in the morning or in the evening, when the rate of evaporation is reduced. Install a rain sensor so that your sprinklers stay off during rainstorms. And water more deeply but less frequently—your plants’ root systems will be healthier.
- Use drip irrigation wherever possible. Drip irrigation products deliver water directly to a plant’s roots; water loss through evaporation is thereby minimized.
- Get a rain barrel. Collect the rainwater that streams off your roof by setting up a rain barrel underneath your gutter’s downspout. That rainwater is ideal for watering your outdoor plants!
- Mulch! Mulch helps retain moisture around your plants so that you don’t need to water as often. It also provides great weed control!
- Sweep (instead of blowing) the driveway to clear it of debris. Here’s an added incentive: Taking broad, long strokes with a broom is great for the arms!
- Repurpose leftover water. When you change the water in your child’s swimming pool, or drain the water from your just-cooked pasta, use that old water (cooled if it’s pasta water!) on your plants.
- Put a Bucket in Your Shower. Most of us turn the shower on a minute or so before we step in, to let the water warm up. Place a bucket under the flow and use that water for your garden plants. Each person can save around 1,500 gallons a year, an impressive amount.
- Cover your swimming pool. If you have a pool, make sure the water doesn’t evaporate. Cover it when you are not using it.
- Go to the car wash. Washing your car at home can be a fun way to cool off, but you may use 100 gallons of water or more. Commercial car washes generally use 40 gallons or less.
Conserving water isn’t just good for the planet, it can also substantially reduce your utility bills. Remember, utilities generally charge you twice for the water coming out of your faucets: your consumption and the sewer usage charge that is based on your consumption.