Don’t send your money down the drain: Water conservation tips for the yard

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Many people are familiar with water conservation efforts for the home. Did you know there are effective ways to conserve water in your yard and garden as well?

  • Planting a new lawn, tree or shrubs this summer? Consider drought-resistant plants, which require far less watering. The following sites offer great suggestions:
    Garden Guides, HouseLogic, Houzz, and Lifehacker.
  • Group plants together according to their watering needs and the slope descent of your yard, which will help retain water and reduce runoff.
  • Collect rain water in barrels to water your plants.
  • Don’t forget the mulch! Mulch slows evaporation and helps retain moisture while preventing weed growth.
  • Position sprinklers so the water lands in the lawn or garden – not on the sidewalk or road.
  • Only water when necessary. Step on the grass – if it springs up, you don’t need to water, but if it stays flat, the grass is thirsty.
  • Letting grass grow to three inches or taller promotes water retention in the soil.
  • Know how much water you need. Most lawns require a deep soak. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn when watering; when water reaches the top of the can, the lawn has been adequately watered.
  • Water early in the morning or later in the day to prevent fungus and to keep insects like slugs and other garden pests at bay.
  • Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your car and only rinse with the hose. This can save up to 150 gallons of water!
  • Don’t forget to check your outdoor hoses, pipes and faucets for leaks – just like inside.

For more information on water conservation, check out Environment Canada and Canadian Living.

Don’t contaminate your drinking water when it rains

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Many cities use treated water from lakes and streams to provide fresh drinking water to their communities. However, many communities could be unintentionally contaminating their drinking water each time it rains.

Stormwater drains (not sewer systems) help return rainwater to nearby lakes, streams and treatment systems; however, there is risk of pollutants, trash and sediment being carried underground. While these drains keep the public safe from rainwater flooding and potential hydroplaning, keep in mind that stormwater runs into other bodies of water.

Storm drains are for rain – not dumping household products that you wouldn’t otherwise pour down a drain in your home. As a homeowner, you can help prevent dangerous pollutants from entering storm drains.

  • Clean up pet waste. Pet waste left on the ground could wash into the storm drains.
  • Never apply pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides to foliage and plants before it rains. Rain doesn’t help soil absorb chemicals; it washes them away. Also, consider using non-toxic or organic alternatives.
  • If possible, drain pools (even kiddy pools) into the sanitary sewer system where the water can be treated.
  • Dispose of chemicals properly instead of dumping them on the ground or in a storm drain.
  • Chemical spill? Don’t rinse it with the hose. Use absorbent materials like kitty litter, which can be swept and disposed of properly.
  • Take your car to the car wash so soap doesn’t leak into the storm drains. Many car washes recycle their water, so you’ll be conserving water, too. If you must wash your car at home, consider using biodegradable soap.

For more information about storm water pollution, visit the Environment Canada website.