Much of southern California is getting into stricter water restrictions right now, with a goal of cutting all water use by at least 20%. That’s a tough goal when you consider how many people have already been conserving. Most lawns in our area show it.
The typical restriction is along the lines of allowing people to water on certain days of the week between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., and limiting sprinkler time to 10 minutes. Also they want people to keep an eye out for obvious water wastes, such as broken sprinklers, obvious leaks and sprinklers spraying more on sidewalks or streets than they should.
These restrictions are pretty good for cutting back water use for irrigation, which is a huge part of residential water use.
For the best results for your lawn, you need to water about 1 inch per week. That’s easy enough to measure if you put out an open, empty tuna can. If you can do it in one shot you should be able to reach the deeper roots of grass, which is the most effective.
Believe me when I say I don’t water mine this much, and it’s kind of brown. But my garden looks good.
Mowing less is also good. Taller grass shades the soil, and so less water evaporates from it. The grass also is then able to better stand getting less water.
My own favorite tip is to find more native plants to put in, rather than your typical lawn. There are grasses that do better with less water. My city suggests a list of plants that are California-friendly (PDF, pretty big). They also suggest only maintaining as much lawn as you need, and having drought resistant plants for the rest of the yard.
We’ve been saving the gallon jugs from the apple juice we buy for about a year now. These containers are now being used to water our garden.
No, they aren’t pretty. But it’s the same principle as the Aqua Globes you can buy.
They’re working pretty well, although we don’t have quite enough bottles saved up for the whole garden yet. As you can see in the picture, they’re not that far apart, maybe a foot, foot and a half at most.
The nice thing is that the water is going right into the soil. No water sprayed into the air. Since we’re looking at a Stage 2 drought and mandatory water conservation coming up at the start of June, we’re trying to figure out how best to keep our garden alive with a minimum of water. Oh, and a minimum of budget. We don’t really have the finances for installing drip irrigation right now.
I have given some thought to the BPA in plastic issue with this, but I suspect it’s not that different from the yard’s sprinkler system, which I believe is installed using PVC plastic anyhow. The bottles are a #5 plastic. They’re not supposed to leech anything harmful… then again they are in the heat of the sun every day so who knows. Not exactly how they were meant to be used.
On the other hand, a lot of recyclers don’t take anything other than #1 or 2 plastics, which I think is true in my area. That means we’re keeping these out of the landfill for a while. I’m not too happy as a rule about buying things in plastic, but it’s hard to entirely avoid. Finding a new use for the plastic is the next best thing.
I’ve been noticing a trend in my area. Lawns are looking a little browner than they do most summers in my area. Seems like a lot of people are watering them less.
Not a bad start, if you ask me.
Better, of course, is to do something useful with the land, or at least xeriscape so that the yard is not completely unattractive. But it’s nice to see that more people in my area seem to be more willing to deal with a less than perfect lawn right now.
In my area, that’s a very rational decision. We’re facing a huge water shortage and they’re trying hard to get us to cut back on our water usage. I’m determined to keep the garden alive, but the lawn? Only enough for the kids to play on. And they delight in dandelions and other weeds just as much as they enjoy the grass.
Quite frankly, if we owned this house rather than just rented, the front lawn would be long gone. There’d also be a much bigger garden in the back yard, which might make up for any water savings, but at least the water would be used productively.
We’d probably also be looking at installing water barrels or some such for those rare times when we get rain. Be nice to get some use out of what would otherwise be runoff. We have lots of dreams for when we own a home. Too many changes just don’t work on our current budget, even when they’re possible for a renter.
Fresh, clean water is something that is just going to become more valuable throughout much of the world, and it’s time for people to start understanding that. Using less even when you could have more isn’t a bad habit to establish at all.