Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wiser About Water

I've had water on the brain for the last 18 days. As of yesterday, I'm realizing there is much I don't know when it comes to water. My rental property has an in-ground sprinkler system that is generally turned on by May Day. This year, I forgot to make a call. Now the lawn folks are so backed up they doubt sprinklers will be turned on before June. I've lost sleep over this, certain flowers will be stunted and the lawn will turn brown during this very dry spring. Armed with hoses, I headed to the property, hoping to salvage whatever was left. To my surprise, tulips are in full bloom, summer perennials are bushing out, the lawn is lush and green. Had the sprinklers been turned on, as they have in previous years, this yard would have received 11,000 gallons* of water during the month of May. Yet, it's doing fine without an extra drop.

Why is this yard doing so well?

  • Perhaps because I let the grass grow. At a height of 4 inches, it's shading it's own roots, keeping soil moist. The grass is tall enough to battle dandelions on it's own.
  • I left fall leaves in the garden beds. Decomposing leaves have created a 'blanket' that retained the moisture from melting snows.
  • Finally, this is a mature garden. Perhaps these flowers have developed a deep enough root system to fend for themselves during dry springs.
Whatever the case, water is a precious resource and this is a lesson worth learning. I intend to cut back on my watering schedule. Maybe you can, too.

*11,000 gallons of water per month may sound like a lot but it's actually a very conservative number. The city has placed a sign in this yard commending me for 'wise-water practice.'

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