Friday, October 15, 2010


I count myself amongst most Americans who are living upside down. Where you owe more on your house than what it's currently worth. Yep! I am right there with you. But just because the economy has gone to shreds does not mean that your wallet has to. Consider these 5 tips to give you ideas on how to reduce your water bill and add a little more "green" to your wallet. These tips may even add some "green" to your property value.

Tip #1 - Kill Your Lawn
Let's face it and accept the reality that lawns are a waste of money and valuable real estate. The amount of water you spend to water the lawn and money you spend to mow and fertilize it is not well spent. You could rather use up that valuable real estate to create a low water meadow garden or create a habitat attracting California native garden. You will become the neighborhood trend setter and the local wildlife will love you to pieces.

Tip #2 - Harvest Rainwater and Greywater
If mother nature is giving us free water then why are we not harvesting it? If you are going to have to use water to wash your cloths in then why not use the left overs to irrigate your garden with. Think for a minute and try this on for size... Get a large decorative pot in whatever color suits your fancy. Cut a whole at the bottom of the pot where a spigot will go into. A small hose attaches to the spigot. Put some mesh with thin holes at the top so the bugs don't get in and whoa-la! Place the pot under the gutter or attach a hose from the washing machine that leads outside to the top of the pot. You could even have the water connected to your irrigation system.

Tip #3 - Understand What You Have Planted
My mother is the classic person that always over water's her garden. As often as I tell her that the plants in her garden don't need much water she still insists on watering more often then necessary. By understanding what is planted in your garden and how much water each plant will need will better help you in using the right amount of water. If you have hired a designer then he or she should tell you all the details about the your plants and if you have had an irrigation system installed then your contractor should educate you on how to use it.

Tip #4 - Plant California native plants (assuming you live in California)
California native plants are from... Guess where? They are already adapted to the California climate and the gnarly clay soils that we have. They require much less water then any other type of plant material and the local wildlife love them. If you must have grasses in your garden then try these California native options.

Tips #5 - Sweep it
I have a front porch on the second floor of a condo complex and I would not dare use water to wash my front porch in. I just grab a broom and sweep. Gives me a good upper body work out and helps save our precious resource. Just imagine that the water you use to wash hardscape with is going into the storm drain and possibly destroying our watersheds.

Photos are of a lawn less garden I designed in Costa Mesa, CA.

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