How much to water dry-climate gardens can be a puzzle. The consensus for lawns, the poster child for waste, is 1″/week. Beyond generic groupings into low, moderate, or high water use, the answer for plants is less clear and can challenge long-standing practices. Let me wade into the morass with the Goldilocks principle. Applied to… Read More Too much, too little, just right?
Want to radically increase water effectiveness at no cost? Rather than run a zone for its total time, divide duration into 2 or 3 parts separated by a brief respite. This cycle and soak technique minimizes runoff and maximizes absorption. Since implementing it 2 years ago in my one-acre Southern California garden, it has proven… Read More Cycle and soak gardens
NEWSFLASH: Your biggest untapped water saver may be to control the irrigation controller. Do not shy away from this device as too complex or for specialists. Unlike IBM Watson that “destroys humans in Jeopardy” or Google DeepMind that won 9 of 10 games with top Go players, we humans can win this one. The key… Read More Control the controller
Goof plugs, designed to repair holes in drip lines where emitters are removed, are notoriously leak-prone. Conversely, smart plugs, the term coined for a new creation borne of sustainability, are leak-proof. Goof plugs fail often and fail big. The 2nd worst drip irrigation leak, they can pop from a drip line to boldly spray 125… Read More Say no to goof, yes to smart
While most expert sources recommend extra emitters on thirstier plants, many claim a system’s emitters must all have the same flow rate. In fact, as I discovered last year, tailoring emitter number AND flow rate is a conservation and horticulture win-win. Plants, exposure, and soil vary markedly within residential irrigation zones. As WUCOLS III (Water… Read More Tailor emitter flow rates too
The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that landscape irrigation accounts for almost one-third of all residential water use, with families in dry climates such as the Southwest using twice that of their counterparts. Irrigating our lawns and gardens consumes nearly 9 billion gallons/day, of which an astonishing 50% is wasted due to inefficiency: The… Read More Water, water, where are you?
Slope gardens, so common here in southern California and other water-constrained areas like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, epitomize conservation opportunities. Months of experimentation revealed seven water retention practices that curb slopes’ wastefulness, enabling us to cut run times in half and frequency by a third. Even now, 18 months later in the 4th… Read More Control the slopes
Garden guides, both online and printed, specify plant height, width, exposure, and water needs. Some even list soil conditions or vary water needs by specific geography. What is missing, though, is water per square foot, the single-most revealing sustainable gardening metric. While water use of an individual plant matters to overall consumption, my analysis these… Read More Gauge plants by water/sq. ft.
If you don’t know how to read the meter, learn. Or have someone else do it for you. A water meter is just like a bathroom scale, car speedometer, or checking account. The information displayed changes bad behavior, validates changes, and reinforces progress. Flawed habits and assumptions are exposed, replaced by facts. Wanting landscaping well-suited… Read More Read the meter and reap
Depending on water pressure and hose size, the average open hose uses in one hour almost as much as the average American family of four uses indoor in six days. Plants cannot use that much water. Like so many others, we used open hoses week in and week out. As I began to measure our… Read More Abolish open hoses