Challenges in the garden: How to go "water smart" before the next drought appears
Posted Oct 01 2008 9:26pm
Its not of matter of "if" but "when" in California. That the big "D." Drought. Not a doomsayer, unfortunately the reality of living in the West.
To me, its a fact that I fear. Growing bamboo requires water, like most plants. Unlike most misperceptions of bamboo, a moderate amount of water will do. In fact, there are some bamboos from South America that are drought tolerant, but, that is a subject for another time.
Rather than sitting on my hands or burying my head in the sand, I have really started thinking about how I can prepare for the inevitable and keep my garden green and beautiful.
First, I cut down the turf I have in the front and back yard. OK, I admit, I am lazy and got tired of mowing the lawn, especially in the summer. Yes, a lawn that was installed in a tract home. Yes, cookie cutter and very inefficient in terms of water use. In fact nearly 50% of water use comes from irrigating landscape. For most of us that is using potable drinking water (the stuff we drink and bathe with) to water. Considering that the potable water supply in the world is only 1% of the water supply in the world (97% is ocean and the rest is ice) its pretty bizarre to think we an a culture waste water for turf (grass) when the water supply we can access for human use is really so limited. But after cutting down on lawn size, I began to realize the potential water savings and saving on my water bill.
The other thing I am considering is a water barrel. Vendors have a wider variety of water barrels, from plastic versions of wood grain barrels to very utilitarian varieties that are essentially industrial plastic barrels. http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/ gives you an idea of the possibilities. With 50 to 80 gallon storage capacity, these are looking pretty good as a back-up supply of irrigation water if our water utility is forced into drought measures like limiting watering days, water patrol, etc. Also, in California, the State Department of Water Resources is talking about the snow line getting higher and higher over the next 20 years, due to climate change/global warming, however you want to call it. Check out http://watersupplyconditions.water.ca.gov/ to start, yikes! Less snowpack means less water storage over the summer, making it critical to gather water while it rains (you'll start seeing water infrastructure projects by national and state governments, make changes to accommodate for this reality in the future).
The other thing I discovered is conversion of my spray sprinkler heads to (picture can be found at http://www.homeandbeyond.com/prod-0119373.html ) a hyroport that can carry 8 drip lines at one spot. Those new found areas of my front and back lawn that no longer have turf are now being coverted to water efficient drip lines. Makes sense, its efficient and my plants don't know any better. The product even claims that it keeps weeds down, which makes sense since its only watering the plants you want, not weeds.
Small changes, but hopefully, I'm doing my part to save water and my water bill will hopefully reflect it.