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Turn Off The AC and Dial Down Your Water Usage...Fall Has Arrived

With October's arrival the summer heat has, at long last, given way to the cooler temperatures of fall.  Most of us are thrilled that the air conditioning kicks on a little less often and electric bills will begin to decrease.  One thing the cooler weather has not brought much relief to is the drought the US has been fighting.  Over 50% of the country experienced extreme to moderate drought conditions in July of 2012.  When considering these sobering facts, managing your home water use has never been more important.  Statistics show that over 30 percent of household water is used outdoors.

Let's examine how we can all do our part to use our most precious resource-water-more wisely.

As the leaves begin to fall, take a moment to reassess  your lawn and garden to make sure you’re making the most of the water you use in your your yard.  Naturally, cooler temperatures translate to your lawn and beds requiring less water and a little less maintenance.  Here are a few common sense ideas to ensure you do your part to conserve water yet not sacrifice the health of your lawn.

Reassess Your Yard's Watering Needs
Most lawns will require about an inch of water each week. With the cooler temperatures of fall and hopefully increased storms, many homeowners will be able to drastically reduce their watering. However, it’s a good idea to assess your lawn and garden watering needs and determine which plants, if any, need extra attention. Newly planted or young trees and grass will need the most attention, since they are still developing a root system, but your lawn can be surprisingly hardy without much water. We all know how hard it is to watch your lawn turn brown, but you will be amazed how  well it will cope without the extra irrigation and bounce back quickly in springtime.

Time To Reset Your Sprinkler
Over-watering is incredibly common in the early fall, especially September. The water needs of plants and grass decrease significantly in the fall, so now is the perfect time to reset your sprinklers from their summer schedule. Excessive watering can lead to plant disease by flooding the root system and choking off their oxygen.  Water before 10 a.m., when temperatures and wind are typically low, and avoid watering in the evening as cooler temps continue to drop: cold, damp plants can easily attract fungus.  With the money you save on your water bill, splurge on some seasonal plants for touches of color in your flower beds!

Use Water Retaining Gels-(Who Knew?)
What will they think of next? Hydrogel Soil Conditioner! Apply this little gem to your lawn  and watch how much water your lawn will retain that might normally runoff. The gel-like crystals can hold up to 400 times their weight in water, which is slowly released directly to your lawn’s root system. These will help you make the most of seasonal storms and allow you to cut back on your weekly watering.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Mulch can be your best friend.  As winter approaches, cover up those less hardy plants from super cold temps.effective way to slow evaporation from your soil and helps protect soil and roots from harsh temperatures. Mulching around trees and flower beds will improve soil moisture and protect your more delicate landscaping. Using organic mulch to deliver nutrients to your plants and grass as it decomposes.

Capture & Recycle Rainwater
Rainwater-it's free for the taking.  Since fall brings a lot of seasonal rain, why not take advantage of these storms and lower your monthly water usage significantly by directing your gutter downspouts into rain barrels. A 1,000 sq. foot roof will collect more than 400 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall – which should help offset a decent chunk of your outdoor water use!

Replace Grass With Drought-Resistant Plants
A 5,000 sq. foot yard (roughly 1/10th of an acre) may need up to 6,000 gallons of water each week to stay green – an expensive and time-consuming task. If you’re willing to do a little bit of work, replacing portions of your lawn with drought-resistant ground cover plants can be a stylish way to conserve a ton of water. Ground covers like sweet woodruff or thyme can add color to your lawn and make it much more drought tolerant. If your front lawn is your pride and joy, consider using ground covers in your backyard to create a more water-friendly area for you and your family.