Spring is here and as the ice of a particularly harsh winter begins to thaw, Carbon County residents are starting to get their lawns in order. For those who are interested in saving money and conserving water a particular kind of landscaping referred to as xeriscaping may be an option.
"Even with the large amount of snow we got this year, we are still stressing water conservation," said Liz Marquez, city recorder at East Carbon City. "We want people to conserve but not to the detriment of our ongoing beautification drive."
According to the Utah River's Council, the word xeriscaping literally means dry scene. While the translation can sound a little bland, in practice xeriscaping means landscaping with slow growing, drought tolerant plants to conserve water and reduce yard trimmings.
It is important to remember that the appropriate plants for one area may not flourish in another. The moist northwest may even be considered inhospitable to sturdy plants of the desert south. Landscapes need to be planned to be compatible with locally available resources, including water, soil types and sunlight.
Hydrozoning, or grouping plants together with similar water needs is also an important part of implementing a water conserving landscape, reported the council. They further recommend that plants needing more water such as vegetables and some flowers should be protected from the wind and sun by planting them in the shade by a tree which will decrease the amount of water they need.
While most individuals do not opt for complete xeriscaping it is important to stick with the theme even in the grassy areas of the landscape by using drought tolerant turf-grass species.
Efficient water application is also essential for effective xeriscaping. The river's council identifies drip or overhead irrigation, applied in the morning or the evening, as the best process for maximum effectiveness. This type of irrigation allows for plants to utilize all available water before it is blown away or evaporates and stops water from splashing onto areas were it does little good, such as sidewalks and gutters.
Aside from water conservation minimal landscaping has several advantages according to wikipedia.com:
Lower water bills.
More water available for other uses and other people (such as showers, sinks, hoses, etc).
Less time and work needed for maintenance, making gardening more simple and stress free.
Xeriscape plants along with proper bed design tends to take full advantage of rainfall.
When water restrictions are implemented, xeriscaped plants will tend to survive, while more traditional plans may not.
Increased habitat for native bees, butterflies and other fauna.
For those who choose to stick with traditional laws the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities has provided vital information for those seeking to conserve water and grow a healthy lawn.
According to their portable file document, found at www.slcsaveh2o.com, overwatering can weaken lawns, making them more susceptible to damage from disease, fungus, insects and weeds.
By watering less, a lawn will be healthier and can save residents time and money.
Signs of overwatering:
Water running off the lawn.
Water puddles on the lawn.
Shallow lawn roots.
Increased insects, disease, mushroom and fungus problems.
Shrubs and other plants that have yellowing foliage.
For a water wise lawn, the site recommends using the following tips:
Water deeply. The goal is to wet the soil 8 inches deep. To check, push a screw driver into the soil, it will take little effort if the soil is moist.
Tune up the irrigation system. With the sprinkler system on, check for broken, crooked or clogged nozzles and repair or replace them. "Don't forget to check the fittings below the heads," states the SLC-based site.
Water the lawn, not the concrete. While the irrigation system is running, notice if water is spraying the walks, gutters or driveways. Replace full circle heads with quarter or half heads where needed to minimize waste.
Water in cycles. By dividing the watering time into three shorter cycles with time in between, water has more time to penetrate the soil and reach the root zone. Run off is minimized and more water gets to the roots by using this method. Divide the amount of time it took to apply one half an inch of water by three to determine the length of time for each irrigation cycle.
For more information residents can also email the experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.