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Water Conservation - Critical for Gardening, Critical for Everyone

Water Conservation - Critical for Gardening, Critical for Everyone

By Brad Wardle, vice president, B-hyve
Photographs courtesy of B-hyve

Living in the Western United States means you experience a lot of dry weather, but this last year has been historically dry. A major drought across the West has impacted over 60 million people with wildfires, tight water restrictions and sharp drops in agricultural production.

Drought has traditionally been local news but has started to impact the national conversation, and East Coast newspapers are commenting on something happening west of the Atlantic seaboard.

As we continue to face the challenges of variability in weather patterns and a growing population, it is more important than ever for individuals to focus on water conservation. Clean water is one of our most precious resources, and we have to do a better job of caring for it.

Those of us who love gardening sometimes hear the term “water conservation” and think it means we have to abandon our dream of a lush backyard oasis, but that isn’t the case. You can be cautious and responsible with water use and still have a fantastic yard. Here’s how to find the perfect balance.

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1. Understand Any Water Restrictions In Your Area

If an historically bad drought is the leading story on every news broadcast, as we are experiencing in the West right now, you can be sure local officials have imposed regulations. But even areas that aren’t facing historic lows may have specific restrictions in place. The first step toward responsible gardening is to find and follow any local water restrictions. 

Information about possible restrictions should be easily attainable through a simple internet search, but you may have to contact your local utilities company. Once you are armed with the information, it’s easy to share with family, friends and neighbors in encouraging them to follow along. You can also check to determine the level of drought in your zip code.

In particularly hard-hit areas, you may also have a local governmental organization that encourages people to call and report violations of the watering restriction. For those who are wary about reporting a neighbor – a friendly chat over the fence may be the more productive and amicable approach.

2. Consider When To Water Your Lawn And Garden

Watering in the middle of the day, during a rainstorm, or watering too frequently are all too common and another important step in conservation is considering when you should water your lawn and garden. There may be narrow windows for watering if your area has tight restrictions, but responsible timing will still lead to better results with less water wasted.

The best time to water is early morning, before 10:00 a.m., when the cooler air will ensure that water is absorbed by plant roots before it can evaporate. The emerging sunshine will then dry the leaves so they don’t develop fungus and diseases that can plague healthy plants if left wet all night, for example.

If you do have to water in the evenings, it’s best to have all watering done by 6:00 p.m. during the summer months. That will give plant leaves more time to dry before the sun goes down.

3. Use Smart Watering Tools

Conserving water is much easier when your irrigation system does all of the thinking for you. Too much water is wasteful and bad for your plants – and in a drought area, could get you in trouble with local officials.

Orbit’s B-hyve XR Smart Sprinkler Controller lets you water from a wi-fi connected free app or through voice controls like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The controller also automatically adjusts for weather, so you won’t be the knucklehead watering during a rainstorm.

Additionally, drip irrigation systems provide the perfect amount of water for garden plants to thrive. Drip systems will sharply cut monthly water use while keeping your yard looking great – and most drip systems are simple enough for beginners to install.

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4. Choose Plants Carefully

Filling your beds with plants that don’t need a lot of water is another good way to conserve. Search online for low-water or drought-resistant plants, or ask at your local nursery for ideas.

Another part of saving is reducing water waste, and you can do that by planting an herb and vegetable garden. This will ensure that water in those parts of your yard is going toward growing food instead of strictly landscape plants.

5. Consider Transforming (Part) Of Your Yard

To really cut down on usage, consider transforming your yard into a natural area that doesn’t require as much water. Choose local species adapted for your climate and avoid plants that may grow in your area but need a lot of water. That vast swath of lush bluegrass may look great, but demands a lot of resources.

Consider xeriscaping a part of your yard, especially if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of rain or snow. Xeriscaping is landscaping your yard in such a way that reduces the need for irrigation and maintenance, and can include replacing turf with mulch, rocks or native grasses, as well as planting species adapted to the climate.

We all share in the responsibility to make sure that there is plenty of clean water for future generations and to help conserve this precious resource. It is possible to make the right choices and still enjoy a relaxing outdoor area, and it begins with considering how we use water in our homes and gardens.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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