Outdoor water conservation
- Power of design. There are a number of ways to create a water-efficient landscape.
- Let it grow. Let your grass grow to a height of 2.5 inches. Taller grass shades new growth and reduces evaporation. You can also leave the grass clippings on the lawn.
- Add organic compost and mulch. Compost and mulch are great for gardens. Both can act as a protective cover for plants, keeping the soil cool and moist and discouraging weed growth. Organic mulches like pine bark, shredded cedar, or wood chips are ideal. Avoid rocks as they retain heat, increasing the need to water. Read more about the benefits of compost.
- Sharpen your blade. Keep the blades of your mower sharp. Dull blades tear the grass leaving it open to disease and heat stress.
- Over-seed. Introduce a mix of drought tolerant fescue grasses to your existing turf. Over-seeding should be done while fertilizing, top-dressing or aerating.
- Collect and use rainwater. Rain barrels are available at your local garden centres. Use them to collect rain water that can be used for container plants, flower beds and food gardens.
- Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers. They promote temporary growth only and lead to shallow roots.
- Efficient irrigation system. Ensure your irrigation system is doing its job by checking the sprinkler heads regularly and setting the timer properly. Inefficient systems can become a huge and unnecessary water waster.
- Hire a qualified contractor. If you're hiring a landscape or irrigation contractor, ask them for references and verify that they carry adequate insurance and a City of Kelowna business license. Ask about their training, qualifications and years of experience. We are now a WaterSense partner and offer a locally focused training program called QWEL (Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper certification). Visit the QWEL website for more information or to find a QWEL certified contractor for your project.
- Know when to water. The best times are between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Avoid watering in the hot sun as almost 50 per cent of the water will be lost to evaporation. (Be sure to check with your water utility for specific watering restrictions in your area.)
- Know how much & often to water. Rainfall and temperature impact the actual monthly requirements of irrigating your lawn (and other plant materials). Installing a rain senor or other device for monitoring on site conditions will provide valuable information for ensuring you are irrigating to meet the needs of your landscape. While there is no exact formula to watering, the following is a general guide for how much water an Okanagan lawn needs in an average year:
|Inches of water per week||0.8"||1"||0.6"|
|Inches of water per month||3.2"||4"||2.4"|