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Saving Water in Southern Homes - Reduce Irrigation Need

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Saving Water in Southern Homes – Reduce Irrigation Need

Saving water is an important part of the Green movement, so I decided to explore how to save water in homes – particularly in southern homes.  Let’s look at ways to reduce our need for irrigation.

The average US household uses about 25,000 gallons per year for irrigation.  Reducing the amount of water needed for irrigation is an important step that should be included in any water saving plan.  If you are using rain or gray water for irrigation, reducing irrigation need can help keep the size and cost of the system down.  This needs to be done in a way that keeps thSprinkler heade lawn and plants healthy – after all, that’s where they got the term “green.”

Here are some things you can do to make your yard more water-efficient:

·         Make sure your irrigation system is efficient –Watering the ground is better than overhead watering.  Water in the cool of the morning to reduce evaporation.  Monitor rainfall so you don’t overwater (or put a rain-monitor on your irrigation system).  Aim your sprinklers to water the grass, NOT the pavement (trust me, pavement won’t grow), and stop watering when it starts to run off.  It is important that the irrigation system itself doesn’t waste water, so monitor your system for leaks, and fix them immediately.  Here’s a good article about efficient watering.

·         Establish water use zones – Organize your yard into low-use, moderate-use and high-use zones; plant and water appropriately in each zone.  Low-use areas are rain-only once established, even in drought.  The moderate-use Oak Leaf Hydrangeaszone gets additional water during establishment and times of stress – like drought.  High-use zones are where you plant unique plants for special interest (like gardens) or for visual impact (around your entrance, patio, or a special area that can be viewed from inside).  Here’s a good article from the University of Missouri about water-efficient gardens and landscaping.

·         Select drought-resistant native plants – Plants that are native to your area require less water to survive.  The University of Missouri article gives insight into the selection process and lists good plant selections for Missouri.  To find plants native to your area you can follow this link and enter your state in the “Select a Region” box.  These oak leaf hydrangeas are on the list for us here in Alabama and require very little watering once established.

·         Use mulch and shade to reduce water loss – Mulching saves water by blocking evaporation and keeping the soil cooler.  It also blocks weeds that compete with plants for water.  Shade reduces evaporation by keeping surfaces cooler - this is especially important at paved areas like patios and driveways.  Trees, shrubs and vines shade better than structures like trellises and arbors.

·         Use hardscape and topography to advantage – 2 years ago I brought in dirt and re-graded my front yard, building up 3’ in some places.  There is a stand of hardwood trees along the right side, so I made sure any extra rain that fell on the yard would run into that area and quench their thirst.  Hardscape – site walls and paving – can also be designed to move water from where it isn’t wanted to where it can be used.

·         Maintain your plants – Pruning plants reduces the amount of foliage that loses water, but be careful not to overprune and leave the plant exposed to excessive sunlight (and heat).  Healthy plants are more drought tolerant.  During drought periods, allow the grass to grow 25-50% taller; it will benefit by more shade and more leaf area for photosynthesis.

Following these suggestions will result in an attractive yard that saves water and doesn’t wilt in the heat.  Contact me - I’d be happy to help you implement these water saving ideas into your home!