Annie was so inspired by this good synopsis of water-saving techniques that she is planning to try two this summer: To shrink her lawn and to start collecting rain in a rain barrel. She loves the idea of making her yard and garden as eco-friendly and self-nurturing as possible. Here is a good reminder that water conservation may require small changes in habit, but it is an easy way to make a difference.
Most of us can find at least one technique we can use in these seven ways for water-saving:
Plant native or climate-appropriate plants that don’t require excessive irrigation. In very dry climates or places that experience frequent water shortages, use drought-tolerant plants.
Collect graywater for irrigating your yard. Graywater is the relatively clean wastewater from sinks, showers, and washing machine (not the so-called “blackwater” from toilets). With a typical graywater system, pipes carry the graywater from the house through a filtering medium, and then to a tank where it is stored for later use. To minimize health risks, it’s usually used for below-surface irrigation of non-edible plants.
Harvest rainwater for irrigation. Rainwater harvesting systems typically direct rainwater runoff from the roof through gutters and downspouts to an aboveground or underground cistern, from which the water can then be pumped to irrigate a yard or garden.
Shrink your lawn. If you want a grass lawn, consider limiting its size. You’ll spend less time mowing the lawn, and you’ll use less water too. To reduce the amount of storm water that runs off your property, consider planting more trees and shrubs. They do a better job of absorbing rainwater than turf does.
Go organic. Organic gardening means gardening in cooperation with nature: relying on environmentally friendly techniques and substances such as compost, mulch, and manure to build healthy soils, manage pests, and encourage plants to flourish.
Reduce storm water runoff from your property. Rapidly draining storm water can contaminate streams, lakes, and oceans with oil and other pollutants picked up from parking lots and roads. Reduce the amount of impervious paving on our property. Instead of a concrete patio, for example, consider paving blocks, bricks, or flagstones laid in sand (not cemented together). Consider gravel or decomposed granite for walkways.
Grow a green roof. Also called living roofs or grass roofs, green roofs are specially engineered flat roofs with a layer of soil or other growing medium on top of a waterproof membrane. Green roofs are often planted with native grasses, wildflowers, and other climate-appropriate groundcover. They help slow the flow of storm water off the roof, keep surrounding outside air temperatures cooler, offer some insulating and sound-absorbing qualities, and may even help protect the roof from deterioration.