California's Governor Jerry Brown made history this week by issuing an executive order mandating a 25% reduction in water usage by residents, businesses and institutional properties (such as campuses, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.). California is now into its fourth year of severe drought. As the typical rain season comes to an end, all Californians are being asked to plan for continued dry conditions. A new era has begun for management of our state's most valuable resource.
According to analysis reported by the California Department of Water Resources in 2014, average water usage in the state was 196 gallons of water per day per person (excluding agricultural use). Actual per capita for residential regions ranged from 78 to 736 per day, with San Francisco's usage averaging 98 gallons each day.
There are a variety of ways that Californians can take steps today to reduce outdoor water usage.
Replace water-thirsty plants with drought-tolerant natives. By removing plants from an overgrown garden and replacing them with more sustainable materials, garden water usage can be reduced by 50% or more.
Replace lawn with a flagstone patio or deck. For that touch of traditional "green carpeting" consider artificial turf. In addition to reduction of water use in the garden, the installation of synthetic turf results in reduced fertilizers and herbicides.
Replace sprinklers, sprayers and bubblers with drip irrigation. Water is delivered in a precise, measured amount directly to the plants that need it.
Utilize mulch to reduce evaporation and to add nutrients to the soil. Mulch material such as shredded redwood, chip bark, fallen leaves or cardboard will keep the soil moist throughout the day. Decomposition of the mulch in addition to soil amendments (such as kitchen composting, store-bought products and biochar) will providenutrients necessary for a healthy garden.
Capture unused household water (when waiting for the faucet to heat up) in a bucket and use it to hand-water planted pots and planter boxes.
Reduce watering time gradually to allow plants to adapt to the new schedule.
Don't forget about the house too! When you get home, run your finger under each faucet and hose bib to check for drips. Add a quick shutoff to your shower to easily turn water off while lathering (reducing your shower time by 4 minutes can save 10 or more gallons). Use a toilet dye tab in the toilet tank to check for leaks, and of course, "if it's yellow, ...."
Lawn sprinklers emit 1/2 gallon to 5+ gallons of water per minute per sprinkler head; depending on water pressure, head type and spray capacity. A typical drip irrigation connection for an established plant will use three 1/2 gallon per hour emitters, or between .75 and 2 gallons a week! Many of us enjoy our lawns, but the math here is pretty easy.
"Smart" irrigation controllers, like the ones JML has been installing for seven years, change run times for irrigation every day based on the previous day's weather, resulting in between 20% and 50% savings in water bills.
If you have questions about ways to make your garden more drought-friendly and sustainable, or would like to discuss the benefits of synthetic turf, give us a call to make an appointment for a free consultation.