Tips for Around the Home
- 75% of the water used in the household is used in the bathroom! Conventional toilets use 16 to 22 litres per flush. New low flush toilets use only 3-6 litres to do the same job. Older toilets can be retrofitted to save as much as 40% of water by installing a water saving device available in most hardware stores.
- Use a broom instead of a hose. Sweep driveways, sidewalks and other hard surfaces instead of spraying them.
- Wash a car with a bucket and a sponge. Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose so water doesn't run while you are washing the car. A free-flowing hose uses up to 300 gallons of water each hour.
- Check for leaks. Look at pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings. Leaks waste a lot of water. Even a small leak in a garden hose may waste as much as 700 gallons a day.
- Save two gallons of water per minute by turning off the water while brushing your teeth, washing your hands etc.
- Water early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation. Avoid watering on windy days. Position sprinklers so water doesn't land on paved areas and run off into sewers.
- Help soil hold water. Add organic materials such as compost or peat moss. Keep your lawn weed free. Weeds can rob plants of water and nutrients. Lay mulch three inches (7.5 cm) deep around trees and plants to retain moisture, slow evaporation, and discourage weed growth.
- Consider installing drip irrigation systems around trees and shrubs. These systems allow water to flow slowly to the roots, encouraging strong, deep root systems. Drip systems also reduce evaporation.
- If you don't have an automatic sprinkling system, use a kitchen timer or buy a sprinkler timer. You can waste a lot of water in a short time if you forget to turn off sprinklers.
- All other questions or concerns relating to water and sewer can be directed to Nasir Sheikh, County Engineer at the Foothills County Administration Building, Monday to Friday between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM at 403-652-2341.
Planning and Design
- Check out the microclimate in your yard. Where are the dry, windy spots and the quieter areas where the snow stays? Match you mini-climate zones to the plants you want (dry land plants in dry areas, shade -loving plants in shady areas). In those areas you plan on developing this year, start your pre-installation watering and weed control.
- Our prairie soils generally need more organic matter to improve moisture-holding capacity. Top up planting beds and gardens with compost (available at most garden stores and the Okotoks Recycle Centre) annually. Aerate and top dress turf every year or so. Raised beds extend the growing season while reducing maintenance.
- Plant Selection
- Prairie native plants are almost always a good bet. As well, there are plenty of tried and true trees, shrubs and perennials for dry landscapes and more are coming on the market all the time.
- Reduce turf areas by cutting sod out (it composts well) or covering turf with landscape fabric and mulch (this can be a temporary situation or a permanent one). Replace with ground covers, wildflowers, and mulch.
- Underground irrigation systems should be designed so heads don't spray on driveways or buildings and must be kept in good repair (leaks checked and fixed.) Infrequent deep watering results in deeply rooted plants that can withstand drought. Set timers for 1/2 hour per zone and water once a week, twice only if it's very hot and dry.
- Mulch conserves soil moisture, minimizes weeds, stabilizes soil temperatures and prevents erosion. Wood chips in plant beds should be 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep, no deeper. Make sure the mulch is not touching the base of the trees and shrubs. Short lawn clippings left on lawn help to reduce the amount of water needed. If no chemicals are used on the lawn, the clippings are an excellent mulch in the vegetable beds and flower boxes.
- Set the mower blades higher in dryer weather (2 to 2-1/2 inches). Don't use too much fertilizer. Plan your applications based on plant growth and weather. Dig tree wells and keep them mulched. Adequate spring and early summer watering helps the plants to make it through dry spells. Late fall watering while the ground is freezing helps plants to make it through our dry winters.