Save money while protecting our environment with the following ideas:
-Renovate your existing lawn or replace it, plant grasses such as sedges, fescues and other eco-mixes for “lawn” areas that need less frequent watering than traditional ryegrass.
-Consider how much lawn your family uses— if there are corners or narrow strips that are never used, remove the lawn and add drought tolerant plants, mulch and/or stepping stones. Maintaining a small proportion of lawn to landscape means less demands for water, fertilizers and mowing. Mowing less frequently reduces emissions you release into the atmosphere and consumption of fossil fuels. For lawn maintenance, try using a push mower or electrical mower and hand trimmers. Elbow grease is good for the environment and your health, a two-for-one deal!
-Plant native and/or drought tolerant plants in place of ornamental plants that demand regular watering throughout our dry summers. Remember, drought tolerant plants need watering the first year or two to get their roots established but after that they can be weaned off of weekly irrigation- the savings will accumulate. Go native! Plants native to our region are adapted to our hot dry summers— some even resent summer watering, like our native oaks!
-Planting trees in areas where they will shade roofs, walls, driveways, sidewalks and streets from the hot sun reduces reflected heat and making these spaces cooler and more comfortable. You may even realize savings in heating and cooling costs on your home or business.
-Installing an irrigation system will help you save water by doing the watering in the early mornings when evaporation rates are lower. Unlike hand watering, the amount of water that goes out each time is measured by the system so you know exactly how much water your plants are receiving. Equipping your irrigation system with a rain gauge will help to conserve water by telling your system when there has been enough precipitation to meet your landscape’s needs and at that point shuts the water off.
-Increasing permeable surfaces in your yard allows storm water to seep back into soils and recharge ground water aquifers while reducing the strain on city stormwater drainage systems, keeping our rivers cleaner. Consider how much concrete or other hardscaping you truly need and remove what you don’t use. If you are replacing old hardscaping or planning new areas of hardscaping try a new material such as permeable pavers, permeable concrete or asphalt, even gravel.
-Another way to ease the burden on city stormwater drain systems is to divert downspouts and gutters to a “dry creek” bed or pond area that during our rainy winters will then fill and slowly release the water back into the soil. In our dry summers these seasonal water features will be dry and not support mosquito breeding.
Even if you only try a couple of these steps to start you will be making a difference in your savings and in the world.