Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Utah water restrictions and what to do about them

This is a water feature at Lehi city hall. This photo was taken after water
restrictions went in place. Seems like a bad time to be using water strictly
for show.

It shouldn't be a surprise to Utahns that they live in the second driest state in the US. But every drought year, the cities and residents panic and flail as water restrictions are implemented.

Most of this hassle could have been avoided with a little planning. Specifically by designing gardens that are drought resistant. Here are some planning tips:

  1. Catch and use runoff water. Quite often extra water can be stored in the ground. This includes snow and rain that hits the roof,  runoff from hardscapes, and water running on sloped ground.
  2. Choose the right plants for the right part of the landscape. Make sure you pay attention to needs for sun and shade. And remember, if you caught enough runoff, you might have enough to plant some thirsty plants and keep them happy.
  3. You may still need an irrigation system, but it will need to be designed it to limit the water thrown into the air and to be used occasionally rather than every day or even every week.
  4. Go ahead and plant a well designed vegetable garden and orchard. If you water correctly and use the produce, you will still have an overall water use reduction in the environment.
I know this is new to many people, but just because it is new to you doesn't mean it is untested. In fact, everything I am talking about I started using in designs over ten years ago. 

This is Salvia nemorosa, a very drought
resistant plant. This one has been growing
for two years with just rain and snow.

To help you get started, here is a list of terms and phrases that you can search online and at your local library:
  • Waterwise
  • Permaculture
  • Drip irrigation
  • Swale
  • Utah Native Plants
  • Xeriscape
    If you need some extra help feel free to contact me at utahsustainablegardening@gmail.com

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