Summertime & Conserving Water
Listen up, North Texas, summer has arrived! The past few weeks, we have been enjoying a later than normal Spring – the temperatures have been nice, the humidity hasn’t made us feel like we’re in a rainforest yet, and haven’t had to water.. I could go on. Unfortunately, we all know that these nice things don’t last for long here and we’ve felt it this week with our temperatures climbing into the 90s. Hello, summer! The bad part is that we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. Over the next couple of weeks, we want to talk to you about conserving water and energy as well as point out some rebate programs that cities offer for making your home more water and energy efficient. Let’s dive in (no pun…okay, maybe the pun was a little intended) and take a look at ways you can conserve outdoor water usage during the summer.
Know When to Water
Around mid-May, and maybe earlier in some communities, we start to see water restrictions go into place. Most cities require that you water based upon your house number (even/odd numbered days) and provide you with hours that you are allowed to water. We recommend checking with your city to see what your watering restrictions are and abide by those. If you do not have restrictions, or want to maximize your conservation practices, we recommend watering your lawn or garden early in the morning (before 10am) or later in the evening (after 6pm). During these times, temperatures are cooler which means that evaporation is minimized and watering will be more efficient.
Know How Much to Water
Common sense would tell you that when it rains more, you would need to water less and when it’s dry, you would water more. While it’s true that the amount you water will change based upon the weather, it’s also a good idea to know the watering needs of your plants. Since we live in the Saharan Desert during the summer months and are on watering restrictions, it’s a good idea to look into plants that are used to this climate and require less water. Another way to conserve might be to consider trading out water hungry grass for a drought-tolerant garden which doesn’t require much water or mowing.
Water Thoroughly and Less Frequently
Plants that have larger root systems are more effective at accessing water and can be watered less frequently than newer plants. Many established landscapes and lawns need to be watered only once or twice per week. For newer plants, vegetables, and potted plants you may need to water more frequently. We recommend checking the watering instructions for your newer and potted plants or vegetables and create a watering schedule based upon those needs and the needs of your lawn.
When you are watering, you want to prevent water runoff by watering based upon how much your soil can absorb. Here in North Texas, the most common types of soil are clay, sand, or loam mixtures with clay being the most common which means that the soil holds onto moisture, but it takes longer to absorb said moisture. Therefore, you may see puddling occur while watering. If this occurs, try breaking your watering sessions into shorter sessions. For example, you want to water for 20 minutes so you’d want to break your yard up into quadrants and run water in each quadrant for 5 minutes. This helps water to soak into the soil without puddling and runoff occurring.
Add Compost or Mulch to Your Soil
At my home, we have a certain flower bed that receives 90% sunlight and is a pain to keep anything alive and often results in being over or under watered. This year, we decided to put mulch down to help us in preventing over watering of the area and I’m glad we did after finding out the help that mulch can provide in keeping the area moist. Organic mulches such as aged manure, bark chips, and wood chips cover and cool the soil which minimizes evaporation, soil erosion, and weed growth. You can also use composted food scraps (think pig slough) and plant debris from your garden such as grass clippings or leaves which will provide nutrients for your plants and increase their water-holding capabilities. Both of these are important for the health and well-being of your plants and will help to reduce your water usage.
Get a Rain Barrel
Rain barrels are just one of many smart strategies that catch or soak up rain water where it falls. You can collect the water that streams from your roof when it rains by setting up a rain barrel under your gutter’s waterspout. You can then reuse this water in your garden which will cut down on your watering needs. In a later blog post, we’ll give you some step by step instructions on creating a rain barrel as well as point you to city programs that can help you create a rain barrel.
We hope these tips will help you conserve water and save some money in the upcoming summer. Next week, we’ll give you tips on conserving water indoors. We’d love to hear from you on ways that you save water and money during the summer. You can send us these ideas on Facebook or Twitter or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay cool, my friends!