landscape irrigation estimated at more than 7 billion gallons per day, the per capita numbers get even more unjustifiable. This is because most of our waste stems from unsustainable planning and policies. Even the corn-based ethanol that could fuels our cars requires approximately 1,700 gallons of water for every gallon of fuel produced. This means that even our “green” gas isn’t water efficient.
American vs. Europeans
The average per-capita water use in the United States is 151 gallons per person per day – more than any other country in the world. The French, for example, get by on 71 gallons apiece. The British- a measly 37.
Learn the Natural & Native Laws of Your Lawn
There are much better ways to decorate or shade your turf, and it largely depends on where you live. Planting appropriately is the best way to conserve water and not kill your plants. Much of the Western Unites States, for example, is built on or near deserts. That means that drought-tolerant planting is essential. In the Midwest’s colder climes, you should opt for hardier varieties of flowers and shrubs. Getting creative can save thousands of gallons per year on outside use.
Since 1960, the United States Department of Agriculture has published something called the hardiness zone map – a road map for planting natives. Visit www.plantanative.com to see what plants will thrive in your location.
A Plant Watering Buy. Watering plants too much is as damaging as watering them too little, especially with dwindling water sources. One option is to buy stackable planters by Stack and Grow, which drain water from plant to plant, making sure each one is adequately quenched. It’s also expandable. Just stack up to four additional modules on top of the main unit. They cost around $40 each, and mimic the effects of a water fountain!
Harvesting RainWater for your Pool, Fountain, or Plants
For anyone with an outdoor pool, a rainy forecast may not always be a bummer. During hot, sunny days, pool owners have to top off their pool as water evaporates from the surface. Though using a pool cover can reduce evaporation by up to 70%, you may want to go greener by installing a rainwater collection system. The rainwater is stores in an aboveground tank, which typically hold 305 gallons, or an underground cistern, which can hold as much as 550 gallons – the average amount of water used by a family of four in one day. You can use it for lawn irrigation, car washing, and refilling your fountain or pool.
Because roof runoff typically contains sediments and debris, it’s important to have a system with several filters, the last of which should capture particles as small as 2 microns (tinier than a particle of pollen). Ask a Hobbs rep about underground reservoir systems and filtration systems at 770.457.3000.
Smart Budget, Do it Yourself Harvesting Ideas
An A/C Plant Watering Rig. Air conditioners drip a little while they’re running, which could mean wasted water and damage to your building’s façade. All A?C window unite have a drain hole, so get a basic funnel for a buck at the hardware store, and tape it to the drain. Then, apply thin rubber tubing to the funnel tip (a few dollars). Run the tube down and place it in an idiot-proof plant. Mint is a good choice; now you are watering your plant for free with no hands!
A Rain-Barrel Buy. For about $100, you can get a Smith & Hawken collapsible rain barrel, which retains up to 35 gallons of water, folds flat for under bed storage in the off season, and is small enough to fit on a New York terrace. There’s no excuse not to recycle rainwater!
A Rain-Barrel Rig. Rain is free water! It’s not the cleanest, so drinking it is not a wise option. But, it is perfectly usable for all outdoor water needs. If you can get your hands on an old drum, great! If not, any 5 gallon bucket will do. Place the bucket underneath the downspout of your home’s gutter. If you’re a renter, or not near the gutter, just put it anywhere outside. After a nice rain, remove the bucket and save it to water your plants and yard later.