Editor’s note: The following blog post is by Heights Park resident Clara Beaufort. If you are interested in writing for HeightsPark.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Clara Beaufort
We’ve all heard the statistic that roughly 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water. That seems like plenty right? Wrong! Consider these percentages: 96 percent of the total water on Earth is saline, 68 percent is frozen in glaciers and ice caps, 30 percent of freshwater is underground, and one percent of the total water is fit for use.
Water is used for millions of purposes including drinking, washing, and watering plants/yards. In addition, it is used to put out fires and has manufacturing applications. In short, water is important, and with the growing population and the fact that freshwater runoff is only expected to increase by 10 percent in the next 30 years, conserving water is vital for the environment and protection of drinking supplies. Now that the facts have opened your eyes, here are a few simple ways you can conserve water in the comfort of your backyard.
Wouldn’t it be nice if water grew on trees? While this isn’t the case. We receive free water regularly in the form of rain. With the right system in place, you can harvest rainwater for watering flowers, gardens and yards. Before you begin, consult the City of Richardson’s ordinance on rainwater harvesting to avoid violations. Once you’ve received the go-ahead, it’s as simple as buying or building a rain barrel. In fact, you may already have some of the supplies to build your own, such as a clean garbage can. Regardless of what type of barrel or catchment system you use, make sure it is placed under a downspout and away from utility services and septic tanks, and place a screen on top to filter out debris.
Use Drip Irrigation
If you prefer automatic irrigation as opposed to self-watering or collecting rainwater, consider using drip irrigation to maximize the water conservation effort. Home Advisor defines drip irrigation as a “low pressure irrigation system in which nozzles are placed at the base of plants and water is applied very slowly.” The biggest advantage to drip irrigation is that the tiny holes or nozzles enable water to trickle slowly into the soil, watering plants and flowers at their roots. Regular sprinkler systems often waste water, as the droplets of water are lost to evaporation in the air.
Drip irrigation delivers smaller amounts of water over a longer period of time, using up to 50 percent less water than conventional watering systems and extending watering times to cut down on soil erosion and nutrient runoff. There are various drip irrigation options, including soaker hoses, sprinkler hoses, and snap-together systems. The only work required on your end is to measure the distance required for each length of hose to reach the area you wish to water.
Make Your Own Compost
We probably all know at least one person who has a compost pile. In fact, they may have asked you to save certain materials you would usually throw away so they can use them for their compost pile. Unfortunately, compost doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in regards to its water conservation benefits. A thin layer of compost added to soil creates a barrier against evaporation, and reduces water needs by holding in water and moisture.
To start composting, place your compost bin in an area close to your home and near a water source. Layer green and brown materials including dead leaves, branches, plant remnants, fruit and vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds, with each layer 2 to 4 inches thick. The following are all items you can place in your compost bin, and some may surprise you: eggshells, tea bags, yard trimmings, wood chips, hair, fur, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, coffee filters, cardboard rolls, and shredded newspaper, to name a few. Steer clear of meat products, pet feces, fats, and grease. Make sure your compost stays moisturized to foster the decomposition process, and turn the pile at least once a week.
Conserving water is a lot easier than you think. Minimal effort equates to big water savings, reduced water bills, and more water for everyone to enjoy. What are you waiting for? Start collecting free rainwater, use drip irrigation to maximize watering, and use your daily waste to create nutrient-rich compost.