The Low Down On Green Living
July 3rd, 2009
We know we need to save water, no really we know, but sometimes we just need a little encouragement to get beyond the low hanging fruit. It is fairly easy to install low flow faucets and showerheads in the house, conserve more, and take shorter showers, but when it comes to saving water outdoors, that’s another story. In most backyards, sprinkler systems were installed well before saving water was a huge issue like it is now, so systems are inefficient and wasteful. With enough time, money and work you could fully replant your yard with drought tolerant plants, rip out your lawn and install a highly efficient irrigation system. If you don’t have the time for that, here are a couple backyard projects you can tackle soon, like this weekend or this month.
Maintain Your Irrigation System
Like any system with moving parts, maintenance is the key to long-lasting and efficient operation. Your irrigation system needs to be checked monthly to maintain proper watering. Check to make sure that there are no leaks, no broken or clogged sprinkler heads, and no obstructions near sprinklers. Correct these first. If you notice patches in your yard that are consistently wet, a sprinkler may be leaking or over watering. Also confirm the automatic watering times and amounts for each zone in your yard are set appropriately. Watering should never be done in the heat of the day either, preferably it should be done in the early morning.
A really easy project is to collect rainwater using a rainwater barrel. Anyone with a rain gutter can collect rain water from their roof (unless your state still has a ban on this activity. Congratulations to residents in Colorado who may now collect rainwater). Rain barrels come in various shapes and sizes, some are made from recycled plastic, some are made to look like terra cotta pots, still others are made from repurposed wine barrels. To make your own cheap rain barrel, follow these simple DIY instructions. Whatever your flavor and budget are, once you get it you’ll need to install it, so first choose a convenient downspout to set the barrel under. Then cut the downspout with a hacksaw high enough above where the barrel sits so that the old downspout elbow can be reattached to direct water into the barrel. Some rain barrels may come with their own special attachment system. Also check out the New England Rain Barrel Co for great hints and tips on using your rain barrel.
Drip irrigation systems are one of the best ways to water your plants and vegetables. This system directs water to where plants really need it - at the base of the plant and the roots. That way you’re only watering the plants you want, not the dirt or the weeds that sprout up in between. There are many systems on the market, but most consist of tubing that you connect to an irrigation valve or spigot and run throughout all your plants. At the base of each plant, you cut the hose and attach a drip device. You can also install an irrigation controller that can turn the water on and off at the appropriate times. Here is a great set of instructions from This Old House on how to install a drip irrigation system.
Rain Shutoff Sensor
A rain shutoff sensor is simply a sensor that detects when it is raining and will turn off your irrigation system during rainy weather and prevents over-watering. Some states even require these sensors to be installed. Ideally, you’ll want a smart controller system that takes into account the weather, plant zones, soil types, plant needs and various other conditions, but they aren’t as easy to install by yourself and may not be compatible with your current system. A rain sensor can be added to almost system very easily.
And since it is Smart Irrigation Month, this is the ideal time to implement some of these very easy projects in your own backyard to save more water. You may even qualify for some rebates depending on where you live. Check out our own site for more tips and tricks to reduce water use in your lawn.
Popularity: 9% [?]