May is Water Awareness Month

We know that water is a precious and vital resource.  Even our bodies are about 60 % water and the brain is 70%. Less than 1% of the water on the Earth, however, is suitable for human consumption. With the population increasing and the water supply staying the same, water conservation indoors and out is important. A well planned landscape makes water conservation outside the home even easier. Since May is Water Awareness month here are some tips to consider.

Start with simple things. Rock, stone, and permeable paths and driveways add visual interest to the landscape and don’t require irrigation. Improving your property’s soil quality aids in saving water regardless of the plants grown there. Organic materials added to the soil help establish a strong root system for plants. Nutrients in the soil allow the plants to become stronger, too. Adding a layer of mulch increases the plant’s efficiency by retaining moisture and keeping the soil temperature stable.

Choose the right plants for your location. California natives or plants from similar climates in the world are low maintenance, low irrigation plants and usually need less tending, fertilizer and pruning. Your choice of groundcover can make a big difference, too, in how much water the landscape saves. Keeping grass areas to a minimum generally reduces the amount of water needed to keep the landscape looking green and fire safe.

Your method or irrigation helps conserve water. Hand watering where possible, especially new plantings, directs the water exactly where it needs to go and you can shut off the hose as soon as the plants receive enough water. A soaker hose is another efficient option that reduces evaporation during the watering process. An automatic irrigation system with a rain sensor, weather based controller or soil moisture sensors is the newest way to save water.

Both San Lorenzo Valley Water ( ) and Scotts Valley Water Districts ( ) offer many tips and incentives to conserve water. Scotts Valley Water Conservation intern, Amanda Robinson, explained they are very interested in getting out the word about using less water-intensive plants – there are lists on the website of drought-tolerant plants and water smart grasses-  as well as customers replacing lawns and old pop-up sprinkler systems. Their rebate programs offers several landscaping credits including  drip irrigation conversion credit, weather-based irrigation controller credit, replacement credit for converting an existing lawn to water-wise grasses, and lawn replacement to synthetic grass. Both districts have guidelines and procedures to apply for the rebates on their websites.

Scotts Valley gave 13 lawn replacement rebates in 2010 and 5 so far this year. Weather-based irrigation controller credits numbered 5 in 2010. Cistern credits for catching and storing rainwater totaled 3 in 2010 and 1 Low volume irrigation system conversion credit was given. Visit the web site for your water supplier to get more info. Don’t miss out on this important information and possible rebate.

There is even a workshop this Saturday, May 14th at the Scotts Valley Water District office from 10am – 1pm. Sponsored by the Ecological Landscaping Ass.and presented by Joy Albright-Souza, attendees can bring dimensions of their yard or project area and take home a class-created landscape plan. The cost is $45 and can be paid by check at the door. Call 831-419-5994 for more information.

Let’s make every month Water Awareness Month.

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