River Smart Gardening Tips
If you love a yard full of beautiful flowers and lush landscaping, you can have it and conserve water too. It’s easy! Be RiverSmart about the things you do in your yard by following these easy tips below: Printable River Smart Gardening Tips Sheet
•Water your lawn and garden only in the morning or evening. Water evaporates quickly during the middle of the day, and watering less creates deeper, stronger roots and a healthier lawn. Remember a lawn only needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.
•Landscape with native plants, instead of grass, to reduce your yard’s water needs. Native plants require much less water, as they have adapted to both the climate and soil. They also attract birds and butterflies. River Smart Gardening Tips
•Use mulch around your plants and shrubs. Mulch helps to lock in moisture and slow water evaporation and keeps roots cooler. Eliminate or minimize pesticide, pull those pesky weeds instead! By catching weeds when they first appear, it reduces the need for harsh chemicals down the line, which saves time and money.
•Pesticides, including herbicides, can be dangerous to people, pets and wildlife. Consider eliminating or reducing pesticide use or using organic alternatives. When you do use pesticides, use them only as directed on the package. Excessive use does not benefit plants and the excess chemicals wash downstream when it rains, which poses a danger to invertebrates in our rivers and creeks.
•Collect water in rain barrels throughout the year. Water collected in rain barrels can be used throughout the dry months to water your garden.
•Reduce the area you mow to use less fuel, improve air quality, and reduce noise pollution. Plant non-mowed areas with native trees, shrubs, flowers, and prairie grasses to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality via improved filtration and infiltration of stormwater runoff. You can also consider converting portions of your yard into flower or vegetable gardens.
•Try a push mower if you have a smaller yard. A modern push mower is easy to operate and costs less to own and maintain. It’s much better for the environment, and leftover grass clippings make excellent mulch for your yard.
•Start a compost pile so you can recycle yard debris and create an excellent source of fertilizer and mulch at the same time.
•Select porous products for your driveway, yard, and landscaping. Surfaces such as asphalt and concrete prevent water from seeping into the ground, instead of forcing the water to flow along the surface picking up dirt and contaminants, which flow into our storm drains and eventually our rivers. Consider using porous asphalt, bricks, stones and cinder blocks, which allow water to seep into the ground around them.
•Plant trees in your yards, trees prevent soil erosion and filter out pollutants carried by water run-off. Trees planted nearby a river provide crucial habitat for birds and shade for fish.
• Plan your garden beforehand so you can save work and water in the future. Plants with similar needs for sun, soil, and water should be placed in the same area.
• Avoid landscaping plastic. Plastic ground covers limit the absorption of water into the soil, and extra water runs off our yards carrying dirt and pollutants back into our rivers and streams. Natural ground covers can reduce soil loss and help prevent weeds.
•If you are interrupted or finished watering, remember to turn off the hose. A 1/2″ hose left running wastes nearly 1,500 gallons per hour! Consider using a nozzle that automatically shuts off when not in use.
•Stabilize your soil. Dirt is one of the top three river pollutants. Soil run-off from our gardens ends up in our rivers and streams and can choke fish and other aquatic life.
•Dispose of chemicals properly. Take empty fertilizer, herbicide and other chemical containers to your local hazardous waste center. Do not pour leftovers down the drain or in the street. Disposed of improperly, harsh chemicals can end up in our rivers and streams.