Clean water is a precious commodity that is becoming less available and more precious each year. Yet Americans waste huge amounts of water, normally purified drinking water, for watering grass, gardening and washing their cars. This is done usually while rainwater flows unused into our streets. This rainwater then enters the rainwater sewer system carrying oil and pollutants into our lakes and rivers.
Here a few suggestions to help you conserve your water resources, save on your water bill and help the planet.
Rain water: In most of the United States there is more than enough rain throughout the year to provide most if not all of the water needs for outdoor plants and gardens. Putting up a gutter system around your home and garage allows rainwater capture of thousands of gallons of water that normally would run into the street and flood the rainwater sewers flushing lawn fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil into our streams, rivers and lakes.
Rain Barrel: You can use plastic or metal (food grade) barrels to capture rainwater from your downspout. These do not have to be new specially designed barrels. Unused barrels or barrels used for powdered or liquid food materials can be recycled. The barrels can be set on the ground and the water removed with a watering can or bucket. The barrel may also be elevated and a spigot installed near the bottom of the barrel for a hose attachment.
The next level would be installation of a cistern. These are specialized plastic or metal water catchment containers. These can catch thousands of gallons of water and may be placed above or below ground. Often they have manual or electric pumps for water retrieval.
Grass Watering: If you are really concerned about water usage, waste and the environment, you may considering planting native plants and removing most, if not all, of your green lawn. Natural spaces do not have only one plant dominating such a large area as a lawn. Grass takes large amounts of water, fertilizer and pesticides to maintain a green lush appearance free of weeds, other plants and brown spots. Watering is wasteful and results in the lawn needing mowed often which causes air pollution from the lawn mower.
If you must have grass, plant drought resistant types. Water early in the morning or late in the evening to limit waste through evaporation. Do not over water and allow runoff. When possible use rainwater instead of purified drinking water.
Native Plants: Plant local native plants instead of typical garden center plants. Native plants are uniquely adapted to your state and location, they need little or no additional watering or care. Many have beautiful blooms.
Use native plants to replace grass. Use of Native Plants instead of grass beds saves water, with the added benefit of encouraging local insects (think butterfly s, moths and birds). Green grass encourages few types of wildlife.
Gardening and water Conservation: Use rainwater and "spot watering" instead of using sprinklers or spraying with a water hose. Drip hoses, watering cans, point watering and watering the roots not the leaves of plants, conserves water. Mulch keeps the soil moist and cuts down on evaporation. Water spraying or using a sprinkler on a garden wastes a lot of water to evaporation and runoff. Watering the leaves of many plants cause plant diseases.
Soaker hoses, drip irrigation, point watering with a watering can, bulb waterers (that deliver water to the roots of a plant)and heavy mulching all decrease water needs.
Grey Water Use: Grey water is the water that goes down the drain in you bathroom sinks, bath and shower. (water from toilets (black water with fecal matter) and kitchen sinks (which contains oils and fats from meats should NOT be used, and Care must be used that caustic chemicals, paints and solvents are not poured down these drains.) Plumbing can be modified to have this drain water captured and used for your garden plants.
Backyard Pond: Establishing a backyard pond can add hours of pleasure while decreasing the area of grass that needs to be watered and maintained. It can be established and maintained with rainwater, eliminating seasoning of the water before adding fish and plants.
Ponds attract wildlife to include; frogs, insects, small animals and birds. You can add fish and local native plants.
- Water early in the morning or later in the afternoon to cut down on evaporation.
- Catch rain water for all your gardening and outdoor needs.
- Replace grass with Native Plants.
- Establish a backyard pond.
- Never use Grey water (from toilet and kitchen sinks).
- Never drink untreated rain water!