ANITA STONE: Alternative Water for a Thirsty Yard
So many readers have e-mailed me asking for ideas about dealing with the water conservation issue. How can we preserve our landscapes and yet be mindful of the drought?
Instead of sulking and complaining while we watch the greenery wither to brown ruin, we can keep our yards green and clean in a number of ways . All that remains is the willingness to carry out a plan.
First, we all have to act together and pull as a community to conserve and appreciate water, which we have taken for granted many years. Historically, there was never a concern, so the mindset was to hose, sprinkle, irrigate, puddle, or whatever suited us in order to feed our thirsty gardens. Now we have to change the pattern so that water will be treated as it should be -- with respect and appreciation.
If we become collectors, not of coins or ceramic ornaments, but of water, then we will be able to keep our yards healthy. And one of the best ways to become a water collector is to use rain barrels. This is an excellent way to stockpile when it rains or even sprinkles. Gather whatever water we can when we can. It adds up. For many of us, irrigation and sprinkling systems, along with hand-held hoses, are becoming a thing of the past.
An investment in one or more rain barrels is the way to go. I have three rain barrels, and they are all filled with water. No, the water does not become stagnant. No, mosquitoes do not collect around the water. And no, the water does not evaporate.
Rain barrels are one of the best water collectors. Once you attach the hose to the outlet, you can water the garden without worrying about the plants drying up and, at the same time, you are being a conservationist. We have yet to face the upcoming summer months, so I suggest if you can purchase or make a few rain barrels, now is the time to do it. Most home improvement stores and nurseries offer rain barrels.
When weather forecasters predict rain I also set out other barrels, pails, plastic cans and pots -- any item that will collect water. Just the other day my ginger plant appeared droopy so I took a filled water pail and gave it a good drink. Within an hour the plant became perky.
While we may not be able to plant some of our favorites, there are alternatives that perform well during a drought. Wildflowers are excellent drought-tolerant plants. Ornamental grasses certainly spruce up any landscape along with native plants that line xeriscape areas and thrive well with little or no water. Seek out the plants that require little or no water. The Moore County Extension Office is a good source of information about drought-tolerant plants.
Hydroponic gardening is another alternative. This indoor or outdoor system offers an efficient method of growing vegetables or flowers in a self-contained recycling system that needs only to be topped off every now and then.
Use the Internet to find other methods of water conservation.
Some families are content with "lasagna" gardening because the original spongy newspapers have kept plant roots cool and damp under the soil, peat and compost. Whatever method you choose to conserve water will be a positive force and it will still keep your gardens alive.
- Learn methods to conserve water.
- Make sure you keep grass mowed low.
- Select grasses that need little or no water.
- Make certain the birds are fed and watered.
- Be selective of the "gray" water and its legality.
- Plan and design the garden with a new approach.
- Trust the planet Earth to provide sufficient tools that will assist our gardens.
Contact freelance writer Anita Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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