Saving water on our outdoor spaces is one of the most effective – and cost effective – measure we can do to ensure the resilience of our environment.
While we have yet to experience in Southwest Florida the extreme drought experienced in some regions, we are so dependent on good water resources here that we all owe to ourselves and our community to use water as efficiently as possible.
We know the outdoor use of water – mostly on our lawns – is one of the greatest drains on our watery ecosystem. We waste millions of gallons each year needlessly and a few simple steps can reduce that waste.
The South Florida Water Management district has suggestions for all kinds of ways to save water in our homes, including and especially outdoor water use.
Our friends at Houzz recently published a workable guide to to creating beautiful and water-saving outdoor spaces.
Written by Houzz staffer Annie Thornton, the piece highlights results from the 2017 Houzz Landscape Trends Study which reveals drainage tends to be homeowners’ biggest challenge nationwide.
In her piece Thornton suggests six relatively simple and cost-effective projects any homeowner can complete to save water:
1. Replace Your Lawn With a Garden
For families with young kids or pets, lawns have their place, but if you have a lawn as a default landscape feature, consider your alternatives. In regions prone to drought, replacing, or decreasing the size of, your lawn with a garden can cut down on your water usage and also save you money. For areas where water is plentiful, other plants and garden features can do a better job of capturing, redirecting and draining water.
2. Lay a Path of Pavers and Gravel
Garden paths made of pavers and gravel are not only attractive, they’re also Earth-friendly, as their loose gravel joints allow water to drain directly back into the soil rather than running off to a drain required by hardscape materials such as solid concrete and mortared brick.
3. Add a Rain Garden
Instead of sending the rainwater that lands on your property downstream via pipes and storm drains, rain gardens drain it on site, reducing strains on our stormwater systems, naturally cleaning the water as it percolates back down into the earth and creating habitat for local wildlife. Rain gardens can be as small as a planted bed at the bottom of a downspout or large enough to take up a significant portion of the landscape.
4. Design a Green Roof
This isn’t a weekend project, or one you’ll likely want to tackle yourself, but a green roof is a project that more people are considering to beautify their home’s exterior and help insulate their homes, reduce runoff pollution, save on energy costs and extend the life of their roofs. Once the roof is growing, small wildlife can also use this as an additional habitat. Some green roof designs even incorporate an outdoor seating area for homeowners.
5. Build a Permeable Driveway
Permeable paving doesn’t just have to stop with garden walkways — this is also something you can apply to where your cars go. From pavers with permeable joints to pavers where the actual material is porous, many options exist.
6. Install a Greywater System
If you keep a bucket in your shower to collect water to use in your garden, then you’re already using a form of greywater, the gently used water from showers, bathtubs, laundry and sinks. You can take this a step further by directing your greywater directly into your landscape through pipes that connect to your house (this is a great way to water trees). Greywater systems vary in complexity, with laundry-to-landscape systems being the most popular and straightforward.
Read Thornton’s complete piece: