A drought occurs when there is a deficiency in rainfall over an extended period of time in comparison to the multi-year average for that region. Currently the United States, specifically areas surrounding California, is suffering from a massive drought that is causing undue hardships on communities across drought-ridden states. Droughts can have major impact on the country’s transportation, agriculture, tourism, and energy production, causing nationwide losses in the billions. So read on for some helpful landscaping tips.
The current drought has brought water restrictions to many communities across the west and mid-west, causing people to take a second look at their own excessive use of water. These restrictions placed on the citizens show just how much water was being used, with excessive lifestyles and landscaping, making it difficult to minimize usage. The effects of droughts make it hard to grow food, causing a prolonged drought to lead to famine, so it’s imperative that we learn ways to consume less water.
The United States consumes the most water in the world. Each person uses an average of 100 gallons of water daily, meaning that one person uses 36,500 gallons of water per year. Our planet only has a limited supply of water on it, so we need to make sure that we work on conserving water efforts at all times to make it so our planet always has water. By educating yourself on the many different techniques surrounding water conservation, you will learn how to make the most out of the little bit of water that you have access to in during emergency situations.
If you keep up with conservation efforts you may find yourself with bonus benefits of conserving water like lowering your bills and finding new ways to lesson your footprint on the planet. Here are a few different ways you can conserve water if you’re living in an area affected by the drought, or if you just want to be proactive and conserve water.
Water conservation tips for your lawn and garden
- Landscape with Drought in Mind
When you’re landscaping, choose lawns, shrubs, and plants that are drought resistant. If you’re thinking of seeding your lawn, or maybe even planting a new lawn, you should find a drought-resistant grass. You can even find many different types of beautiful shrubs and plants that thrive with less water than other species need. You’ll find that if you find native plants you will use less water and have a natural resistance to local plant issues. You can also look into methods to keep a drought resistant yard by planting your gardens on slopes to retain water and reduce runoff.
If you’re serious about landscaping in a drought, you may want to consider xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is when you landscape your home in way that limits or eliminates the need for watering through irrigation. This is a very fun and creative way to conserve water while maintaining your lifestyle and hobby in landscaping and gardening.
If you live in a drought area, consider planting succulents, flowers, and grasses that thrive in dry conditions. Some plants you may want to consider are:
- Lavandula multifida; a type of herb related to lavender
- Sempervivum; a beautiful succulent
- Lewisia cotyledon; a flowering plant
- Nassella tenuissima; a whispy grass native to Texas
- Portulaca; a flowering plant
- Catmint; a tall, flowering plant that is great for territory borders
- Group Plants based on Watering Needs
When working on your yard, group your plants together according to how they need to be watered. Creating a zone for plants with watering schedules that are similar allow the plants to thrive alongside one another. This concept is often referred to as hydrozoning and allows you to create “zones” based on the needs of the plants in your garden.
When setting up your lawn or garden you should consider three watering zones that consist of a primary watering zone, secondary watering zone, and minimal watering zone. This allows you to give specific plants and zones the attention that they need while maintaining an eye on proper water conservation. Quick note: Remember that plants like herbs don’t need as much water as fruits or vegetables do, so keep your herbs separate from the plants that need an everyday sprinkle.
- Get Some Mulch
Mulching has many benefits for lawns and gardens, one of these being moisture retention. When you plant a thick layer of mulch around your trees and plants you slow evaporation by shading the soil underneath the plants, allowing the roots in the surrounding areas need less water. Make sure to add anywhere from two to four inches of compost or bark mulch and press the mulch down towards the plant’s drip line to minimize water runoff. When watering, make sure the mulch gets fully saturated to see the most benefits of this smart way to save water.
Straw makes a great mulch for vegetable gardens, but look out for straw mulch that contains hay. Hay may carry seeds that can sprout in your garden, so look for a distributor or supplier of weed-free straw. If you have the ability to get rice straw, that would be a great option for your garden. When mulching with straw, start with one bale and place the loose straw in a layer that is 3”-6” thick and keep the straw away from the leaves of your plants as it may cause the spread of fungus.
Besides the traditional types of mulch, there are other materials that you can use to help your soil retain water. If you’re a rock collector, you can use rocks and stones to create a beautiful landscape for your garden while retaining water in a beautiful and creative way. When you use rock mulch, be sure that you don’t live in a terribly windy area. Rock mulch is designed for a dry landscape where you don’t have many weeds to worry about.
- Be Smart About How You Water Your Lawn and Garden
When you water your lawn, it’s important to position your sprinkles so water lands right on your lawn or garden. There are sprinklers that you can by where you can position them to find the most efficient way to water your plants. Make sure you’re not hitting any paved areas, wasting water in a drought is no good! A good rule of thumb is for you to only water your lawn when it needs to be watered. You’ll know if your lawn needs to be watered by doing an easy test: just step on the grass. Does it spring back up when you move? Then it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, it’s time to water it. Also, if you keep your lawn around 3 inches tall, the soil will retain more water.
When watering your lawn make sure you have a good sprinkler. When choosing a sprinkler, make sure you find something durable. Thick tubing is flexible and strong enough to provide the best water flow. Also, make sure the stream that comes out of the sprinkler is even, as most lawns need an inch of water per week. If you have trees and shrubs, look for sprinklers designed to water them.
The Waterhoop™ is an environmentally-friendly product that you can water your trees and shrubs that is is easy to use and flexible, allowing you to position the sprinkler for maximum efficiency in coverage and conservation. When watering your trees and shrubs, use your Waterhoop™ in the morning to get the most benefits from the product.
- Water in the Morning
If you’re watering your lawn make sure you aim for watering during the early part of the day. Getting even water coverage is important, so avoid watering your lawn if it’s windy outside. Try watering your lawn in the early hours of the morning to prevent the growth of fungus as it is usually warmer at dusk. A great way to measure how much water you’ve used while watering your lawn is by placing an empty tuna can out near your sprinkler. Once it’s full you can turn off your water and be assured your lawn has gotten enough water.
- Think Organic
Composting is a great way to increase soil absorption around your garden. When you add organic materials to your garden in a thin layer it acts as an effective barrier against evaporation of moisture in the soil. When you do this, you increase the absorption rate in your garden’s soil. By only using a 5% increase of organic material in your soil you almost quadruple the soil’s capacity for retaining water.
If you live in an area where your soil is sandy, organic material will help retain water. If you happen to live in an area where your soil is more like clay, organic material will help drawing water efficiently. Some organic material that is great for creating a compost pile for your garden is kitchen scraps, grass clippings, torn up newspaper, dead leaves and other plants, and animal manure. You can make one effective compost pile with a mix of those ingredients! Just mix them together, let the ingredients break down, and use the leftovers to mix in with the dirt in your garden.
Other ways to think organically are easy DIY ways to conserve water. By looking into drip irrigation systems and other rain catching systems you’ll be able to reduce the amount of water needed for your trees, shrubs, and lawns.
- Learn how to Prune
It’s important that you only prune your plants when it’s needed. When you prune a plant incorrectly, you may find that you need to support new growth in the plant that requires more water to be given to the plant. Remember: open wounds on a plant allow the plant to evaporate more.
- Check for leaks!
We cannot stress the importance of checking your hoses and sprinklers for leaks periodically. If you have an irrigation system, make sure your lawn mower hasn’t caused any damage do your spray heads. If you do find that you have a leak, make sure you pick up a new hose that is made from a durable material to prevent any future damage.
It may seem like a lot, but these 8 tips are incredibly easy to implement in your daily life. Conserving water should be something everyone in the world is doing all year round, not just during drought season. Remember that using products that are created to be more environmentally friendly are going to help you save water, and we challenge you to conserve water by using it more efficiently.