With our mild, but present winters, and a heavy supply of rain that comes annually in June, sometimes it's easy to forget that inhabitants of the Okanagan Valley are living in a desert.
Each year, we're reminded when mid-June and July greet us with temperatures well into the high end of the 20's, to a dip into the 30's. These temperatures often bring with it a water conservation notice from the city-- only water on odd or even days, depending on district. Water between dusk and dawn only, when temperatures have declined. This is often practiced in an effort to encourage water conservation, but what are some other ways that you can reduce your homes water consumption, while keeping a healthy and vibrant outdoor area?
1. The Power of Design - create a water-efficient landscape. This has become more commonly practiced in the last few years; residents have torn up their grass and ripped out their cedars in exchange for low-maintenance plants requiring less watering. This process is called xeriscaping.
2. Let it Grow - While shorn grass is desirable, if you allow your grass to grow to a height of 2.5 inches, the taller grass will shade new growth, and will reduce evaporation. Leaving the grass clippings on your lawn is also effective.
3. Add organic compost and mulch - The two act as a protective cover for plants. providing nutrients, discouraging weed growth, and helps with the soil retaining moisture and staying cool. Rocks will retain the heat and increase the need to water, so be weary of implementing a rock bed while trying to encourage new growth.
4. Sharpen your Blade - With a sharp mower blade, you are decreasing the chances of your blades tearing the grass, and leaving it open to disease and heat stress.
5. Over-seed - Introduce a mix of drought tolerant grasses to existing turf. Don't be afraid to mix it up! Make sure this process is done while fertilizing, top-dressing, or aerating, to make the most of your efforts.
6. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers - The growth you see will be temporary, and too much of a high-nitrogen fertilizers will not only burn existing grass, but lead to shallow roots.
7. Efficient Irrigation System - Avoid water wasting by checking your irrigation system. Nothing wastes water like a hose that leaks in the wrong places, or a timer that goes off in the middle of the day when the majority of water administered to your lawn is most likely to evaporate minutes within hitting the soil.
8. Know When to Water - Did you know that during peak sunlight hours watering your lawn could cause 50% of moisture to evaporate? The best times to water are between 10 PM and 6 AM when the sun is down and temperatures are low.
Have a question regarding water use? Contact the Water Smart team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250 469-8502.