Steele: Pledge to reduce your water use this summer

If your water meter is running when you are not irrigating, and all the water in your house shut off, you may have a leak.

Easy to grow

In this hot dry weather, water bills are rapidly escalating.

Here are some tips to reduce your water use.

General:

Adjust sprinklers to avoid creating runoff or watering pavement and other hard surfaces.

Set out empty, one inch tall cans (e.g. tuna) in the area to be watered. Time how long it takes to fill cans and observe where less water is being delivered.

Make adjustments as needed.

Put automatic irrigation systems on manual. Check one zone at a time.

If your water meter is running when you are not irrigating, and all the water in your house shut off, you may have a leak in your irrigation system.

Watering time:

The best time is two to three hours before or after sunrise.

When watering in the heat of the day much is lost to evaporation.

Watering during wind is inefficient. Fine spray is especially vulnerable.

It’s better to water less often for longer to encourage plants and turf grass to grow deeper roots, making them less vulnerable to drought.

One inch is a good watering. Longer delivery time is better. It allows soil and plants to absorb the water.

Food gardens need one inch/week during summer, less often in cooler weather.

One inch of water, once per week is sufficient for lawns during hot, dry weather and less often in cooler weather.

Lawns on clay soils need much less.

If left unwatered (as in Vancouver) lawns go brown and dormant just Like our native grasslands. Once it cools down and rains, they green up again.

Timers:

Smart controllers (mini computers) can fine tune your irrigation by soil and plant type, adjust for weather, etc.

For hose draggers like me, there are lots of options to attach to a tap and program to turn sprinklers on and off while we sleep or over a period when on holiday.

Lawns:

Leave clippings on the lawn. This creates a closed loop system. Nitrogen and nutrients in the clippings break down to become fertilizer for the lawn and help retain moisture.

Leave grass 2-3 inches tall. It will be healthier and need less water.

Taller grass shades the soil, reducing evaporation, and shades weed seeds making it harder for them to germinate.

Don’t fertilize. Fertilizer speeds growth making turf more water-thirsty—and increasing mowing frequency.

Instead, spread a half to one inch layer of organic mulch such as Nature’s Gold, Classic Compost or Glengrow over the lawn in spring and/or fall to improve water retention.

A spring application will provide all the fertilizer the turf needs over the whole growing season.

Sign up on www.makewaterwork.ca to take the pledge to reduce your water use and be eligible for prizes including a grand prize of approximate retail value of $6,000 worth of irrigation audit, irrigation improvements or water-wise plants.

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