The summer garden is like a sexy vampire—though it may be gorgeous, it's also sucking you dry. Outdoor water use accounts for approximately 70 percent of the average American family's water consumption, which means we all need to take a long, hard look at how we're taking care of our lawns this summer.
Even a yard as small as a thousand square-feet typically takes about 35,000 gallons of water per year to maintain. That is an obscene amount of H20. If you're an over-waterer, even in that tiny garden in back of your Brooklyn apartment building, that same tiny yard could be guzzling as much as 75,000 gallons of water per year. Regardless, it's important for Americans to do summer differently this year, and make a conscious effort to cut back on our water consumption.
But not to worry, this doesn't necessarily mean you have to get rid of your precious green space garden altogether—there are non-annoying ways to sustainably maintain your yard. We've assembled five tips for conserving water, and avoiding the spooky, over-watered vampire-garden this summer.
Let Your Grass Die...
Well-kempt American lawns have long been a suburban status symbol, and a gorgeously maintained yard used to be the perfect way to make your neighbors green with envy. But when 40 out of 50 states are scheduled to hit water shortages in the next 10 years, it's safe to say that drenching your lush, green grass won't make anybody jealous anytime soon — it'll just make them pissed.
The simplest way to cut back on your backyard water-use (especially if you live in drought-plagued regions), is to simply cut it out altogether and let your grass die a slow death. If you're currently stuck in a drought, your lush green lawn isn't a good look anyway. It's basically a giant "fuck you" to our national water crisis. So, let your garden gnomes suffer through a brown lawn this summer, and think of the earthy hues of your dead grass as the new suburban status symbol. It proves that you care about sustainability, and is an immediate way to address climate change
...Or at Least Be Smart About How You Water Your Lawn.
If you can't summon the courage to be a lawn murderer this summer, don't sweat it. There's plenty of other ways to cut back without browning out your greenery. For one, watering your garden when it's cooler outside (either in the late evening or early morning), cuts back on evaporation. Don't be an idiot and leave sprinklers or irrigation hoses on when it's about to rain. And don't water your driveway.
That sounds obvious, but countless gardeners with bad aim constantly set up sprinklers on the edge of their yards and the majority of water straight up drowns the pavement or sidewalks. It's pointless and dangerous. Letting water wash a blacktop or what not could also wash insecticides and fertilizer into your sewer systems, polluting your water supply.
Put Your Hard Earned Money Towards a Rain Barrel
A rain barrel is a tank that's typically set up under a gutter outside your house, to collect runoff from your roof. It might sound gross, but that collected water could be used to do everything from watering your lawn to washing your car. Just don't use it for drinking: runoff from your roof can be filled with pollutants that can be hazardous to your health.
Either way, the numbers add up. For every inch of rain that falls on one square foot of your roof, you'll collect over a half gallon of water. Even smallest roofs have the potential to collect many gallons of water during a rainstorm. You'll even save some cash on your water bill since you'll reduce your usage of local water resources.
Consider Setting Up A Drip Irrigation System
If you're a gardening nerd with a little extra time (or money) on your hands, get a drip irrigation system.
Once it's set up, drip irrigation conserves water by feeding water drips directly on the roots of plants and grasses through a semi-intricate network of tubes and piping. Go straight to the roots of your greenery and you reduce the amount of evaporation that occurs during the watering process. Doing that alone can potentially cut your water usage in half.
Get Your Xeriscape On
No, we're not talking about Xena Warrior Princess. We are, however, talking about a fierce way to conserve water while maintaining an incredible garden. Xeriscaping (aka dry-scaping) is a form of landscaping where you use drought-resistant plants, smaller turf areas, mulch or stone-covered soil, and a drip irrigation system as a multi-faceted way to significantly reduce the amount of water your garden uses. Xeriscaping was originally invented for dry or drought-plagued regions, but now it can be adapted for any climate.
If you stick to xeriscape principles it's possible to reduce your water usage by fifty to seventy percent. So get your Xeriscape on, fight water waste this summer, and maybe you'll earn the title of Xena Warrior Landscaper.