Making Water Wise Decisions – by Connie Ransom
Waking to rain on September 15th reminded me to turn off the irrigation! Shortly thereafter, the stream bed behind my home in Sycamore Canyon was full of water for the first time in months. While exciting, this is not the end of the drought, the worst, some say, in 500 years. We need to redouble our water conservation efforts, because the shortage will last for many years.
Landscaping accounts for the largest percentage of household water use, so this is where to start. There are incentives from utility companies to lower your water use. Besides saving money there are other concerns. Replacing inefficient irrigation based upon your plant choices is the starting point. Just removing sod does not solve the problem. Water wise plants, concrete, stones, pavers and mulch, cactus, succulents, fruit trees or shade trees. How can you make changes without breaking the family budget, and what choices are right for you?
Gravel, concrete and asphalt all heat up the ground, and generally do not let water percolate into the ground. There are some spaces where grass or ground cover will be beneficial – creating shade, places to play, and allowing rain to percolate into the water table. Ask the right people. Check with the Western Municipal Water District’s water wise garden, the UCR Botanic Gardens, and native plant nurseries
and ask questions.
Discover how the plants grow. Some plants take little to no water, others need regular watering. Some plants need room to spread out – leave room for them to grow. Some plants need special attention, are you willing to allocate, and plan accordingly? Take your time, do your research so that you do not end up wasting the savings you would appreciate from utility rebates.