Why Saving Water for Summer Is Key
Water conservation during the summer is always a big focus for those of us who are concerned about the environment. We spend a lot of time talking about it and even more, time ensuring that we aren’t contributors to enormous water waste. Summer months are vital, as this is the time when the most water is consumed for watering lawns, filling swimming pools, preventing heat strokes, and for various recreational activities. Here is some helpful advice on summertime water conservation.
Your Lawn Needs It
- Don’t Over Water – A good rule of thumb for most lawns is that a lawn needs about one inch of water a week while perennial plants and shrubs need between 1 – 2 inches of water a week. For most plants and annuals, the tag from the nursery will tell you how much water, sun, soil, and pH requirements.
- If in doubt, trial and error work by keeping the soil around the plant lightly moist to see how it responds while adding water gradually without overdoing it. If conditions are particularly windy and hot where you live, drying the soil quickly, keep a watchful eye out for wilting. If it wilts, add water to the ground, but be careful not to drown the plant.
- Don’t Waste Water – Well that is what we are talking about, after all, isn’t it? When watering, don’t soak the plant’s foliage. The roots need water, not the leaves. If you see the water puddle or running off, stop. This is water waste. Let the water soak in before proceeding. If it is running off, it has had all it can drink. Likewise, when running lawn sprinklers: water your lawn, not the street, driveway, or side of your house. A good plumber or landscape specialist can assist you in placing and installing sprinklers where they will be most efficient and effective.
- Use the Proper Tools – Some watering tools are more useful than others, and correctly installing and using these tools makes a world of difference in water conservation. A standard garden hose and nozzle are the less efficient or effective means of watering lawns and plants because of the amount of water wasted in application, runoff, and evaporation. A sprinkler, wand, or soaker hose provide the best results and least water waste.
- Test For Moisture – Not many people test their soil for the moisture level, but this is an excellent proactive measure you can take before watering your lawn. You can purchase a gauge to check your soil’s moisture level at a local home improvement store, nursery, or from a horticultural supplier. However, in the absence of an actual moisture gauge, a large straight blade screwdriver will work. Only poke it into the soil; the drier the soil, the more resistance you’ll meet.
- Water In the Morning – The local weatherman, plumber, and expert gardener alike will agree that the best time of day to water is in the morning. If you water while it’s still cool outside, water is able to soak into the ground before it evaporates on the surface. Watering in the morning also helps the lawn and plants to take in the water throughout the day. Watering your yard at dusk or early evening is an option, but this increases the risk of fungus growth because these organisms thrive in damp, dark places.
For the Love of Cars
Summertime means more traveling and adventure, meaning more time in our vehicles. For the love of our car, and the sake of saving money, many of us opt to spend more time outside and wash our cars. However, forget the hose and instead, wash your car with a bucket and sponge. EPA WaterSense reports that as much as six gallons of water per minute can be wasted by a hose left running; alternatively, a bucket and sponge uses only a few gallons to get the job done.
Home RunsFor the most efficiency at home, run washing machines and dishwashers only when they are full. Adjust the water level of your washing machine to match the load size. If you have a water-saver cycle, use it. Many new machines automatically sense the load size for you.
- Quench Your Thirst – By keeping a reusable bottle of cold water waiting in the fridge, you’ll have cold water handy to quench your thirst, all while avoiding the cost of buying bottled water or running up your meter.
- To Bathe or Not to Bathe – A short shower is far better than a bath! A quick 5-10 minute shower uses only about 10 to 25 gallons of water while a full bathtub can use up to 70 gallons of water. For the little ones that need baths, run only a quarter or half tub full instead of a full tub. They will enjoy this more for play time, anyhow.
- Brush It Off – Don’t leave the faucet running. Did you know that you can save up to 8 gallons of water per day by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth?
Maintenance Is KeyYou should check your faucets, toilet, and pipes regularly for leaks, and have them fixed promptly. EPA WaterSense provides an easy test for toilet leaks: Simply place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color tints the water in the bowl without needing to flush, there is a leak. An alternative method is to check your water meter before and after an approximate two-hour period when water is not being used. If the meter changes any, you likely have a leak.
For maintenance and repairs, it is advised to call in the professionals and let them take care of the work for you.