Do you think you could cut your water usage by 30%, as of right now? Sounds rather daunting in the summer months doesn’t it, even if golden is the new green, and lawns aren’t that important to you. That’s what we’ve been asked to do as a community. The water that flows from our taps up here in the Okanagan is supposed to be cut back drastically.
Every drop counts
Residents of the Okanagan, BC, have less water per person, but we’ve been told that we use more than anywhere else in Canada, so we’re being asked to voluntarily cut back our water usage by one third to conserve what we do have.
Our stage two restrictions might soon be ramped up higher like Vancouver, which is currently going through stage 3, meaning no sprinkling of lawns, parks, washing cars, or refilling pools and ponds.
It’s a bit of a challenge, but golden can be great.
Turning the tap off
We already have water saving low flow toilets, and a low water usage washing machine sitting idle until a full to the brim load is ready to go. The dishwasher might emit a rather fragrant odour when it’s stuffed with dirty dishes, but that’s just because it isn’t full enough to run yet. We try to conserve all year long not just during the summer months.
We haven’t resorted to sailor showers yet, which is recycling a small pan of water by pouring it over your head and capturing it at your feet, over and over, [sounds delightful, sigh] but we line up showers so the hot water doesn’t get a chance to cool down requiring it to run longer.
We don’t water our lawn much at all, it’s golden, it was hardly green with the lack of rain during this drought season so cutting that back there won’t hurt, but I love my perennials, and shrubs and have invested a lot of effort in them, and would hate to lose them. We’re still allowed to water lawns, and flower beds with a spring-loaded shut off nozzle, and use drip irrigation which is a garden life saver.
It’s hard when we see neighbors insisting on watering their lawns every night, or watering mid day when the water evaporates faster. There’s a community down on the coast asking residents to report neighbors breaking water restrictions, and bylaw officers can’t keep up with the incoming calls. It’s no longer a excuse there to say you didn’t know about the restrictions.
I’ve asked Grace, of Gardening with Grace, author of the new book Grace in the Garden, and designer of one of the most beautiful gardens in the Pacific Northwest [her collection of plants, and her gravel paths make me swoon] to recommend a few water saving tips that we might all use in our own gardens to get us through the dry seasons.
Grace found that by hooking up multiple hoses to a Y shaped connector she can move freely through her garden without crushing plants, and water more efficiently. They also make active use of a rain barrel, which her husband calls “free water.”
Do you recommend using a mulch?
Yes. Organic mulch and compost are really important for the health of the garden. A top dressing of mulch will insulate the soil which helps conserve moisture and smother weed seedlings. And it will give nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. It should be applied at least once a year, preferably twice.
Is it better to choose certain types of plants for each area in the garden, hot, dry, wet, shady, or does one plant fit all?
Some plants—such as boxwood—are extremely adaptable and will thrive in just about any setting. Other plants have very specific environmental requirements. This is where it becomes imperative to do your homework. Nurseries usually provide adequate information on their plant tags. But if not, a simple Google search will provide the plant’s optimal growing requirements, including sunlight, water and air temperatures. I try to situate my thirsty plants closer to the faucets and drought tolerant plants farther out by the fence.
How deep do should we water, and how often?
It depends on the plant and where it’s located. A water-loving plant in full-sun will need daily watering during a heat wave, while a desert succulent in partial shade won’t be as demanding.
Hopefully everyone will get on board and try to conserve as much of this precious resource as possible, and maybe, fingers crossed we will all get a good rain.
Jen @ The Light Laughed