Boy, it’s going to be kind of tough not to be depressing during this intro. We’ve got to be honest, and you probably know where we’re going with this, so we might as well make this like ripping off a bandaid and get it over with all at once. Responsible water conservation is going to have to be a lifestyle, because The drought isn’t going anywhere any time soon. According to californiadrought.org, which monitors the drought’s conditions and regularly updates their information, “Severe-to-exceptional drought extends across 43% of the state, while moderate-to-severe drought extends across an additional 41% of the state.” Conditions remain bad enough that in June of this year the LA Times’ editorial board argued that Californians should be practicing water conservation as if the drought was here to say. I guess we live here now.
Whew! Ok, so that’s done. We know you’ve already been doing your best to conserve water, because one of those kind, great, responsible Californians who does cool things like read funny plumbing blogs on the internet. One of the big obstacles to conserving water, however, is lawn maintenance. You probably feel like you’ve already sacrificed enough in the name of water conservation (who doesn’t?), and your lawn is where you draw the line in the sand.
But what if it was possible to do both? Participate in responsible water conservation and keeping your lawn looking so good? Well, it…might be! Look, we’re plumbers, not miracle workers. We know water and most of us have lawns. We’re all Californians. Don’t be so cynical! Here are some of the best ideas we could come up with.
Go ahead, make your joke. We can hear your sassy-sarcasm voice now: “If it rained in California, I wouldn’t need to do so much water conservation in the first place!” Wow, good one. Here’s the thing: it’s going to rain eventually. That’s just science. God, we hope it’s going to rain eventually. When it finally does, a rain barrel can be a really good way to get a surprising amount of free, ready-to-use water, even if it’s only a shower. Plus, you can probably get them at a discount right now, since not everyone is as forward thinking as we are. Lucky you.
So how do rain barrels work? Oh, let us guess, you’ve got another joke. “Oh, I can’t figure this barrel out, it’s soooo complicated!” ha. There are actually quite a few different ways you could go about this. You could put a mostly covered barrel under a gutter downspout and catch the rain that pours out. You could connect several barrels together and attach a pump to one, which you could use to water a garden. There are a lot of creative and often complicated methods of collecting and storing rainwater. If you’re looking for ideas or more information, rainbarrelguide.com has a lot of it. Just be nice. Not everyone appreciates acerbic, dry wit the way we do and we just worry.
Aerate Your Lawn
Aeration is perforating the soil in your lawn with small holes. If you’ve seen a nice-looking lawn covered in little compacted nuggets of dirt, that lawn was recently aerated. Aeration alleviates soil compaction, which is when your soil has too many solid particles for its space. Soil compaction prevents proper circulation of air, water and other nutrients from getting through the soil down to the roots of your grass. By aerating your lawn, you’re essentially opening it up and allowing water and nutrients to get where they need to be. Long story short, if you can aerate your lawn, watering your grass will be more efficient and you’ll see better results with less water.
Aerating your lawn is neither as difficult nor as tedious as you might expect! It doesn’t even involve forks! You can either hire an aerating service, do the job yourself by renting an aerator or even just use a rake.
Remember that not all aeration methods are created equal, however. There are two different aeration methods: spike aeration and plug aeration. Spike aeration is what you could do with a rake or with a lot of manual aerators. It pokes holes in the soil to break up compaction. Plug aeration, on the other hand, extracts those little “plugs” we referred to earlier and is a more effective way of opening up your lawn. You can rent aerators from home improvement or garden stores.
If you want to know more about how to aerate a lawn yourself, there are (surprise!) some great resources online. We’re just plumbers, after all, not nerds. We know all about pipes, but not the finer points of soil irrigation. Here’s a good rundown from Briggs & Stratton, and another from Bayer. These people seem to know what they’re talking about. Nerds.
Start a Garden
At this point you probably think we’re messing with you, but hear us out: grass takes a lot of water to maintain properly. It’s kind of a pain, really. You do all this work to carefully trim and manicure and cultivate, and then time passes and everything grows or dies or gets weeds. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Like, we’re kind of like lawns, aren’t we?
…Um. Anyway, did you know there are a ton of really beautiful garden flowers, shrubs, succulents and other desirable plants that require little to no water? Seriously, a. Ton. Of. Them. Instead of that endless yellow-green field of gently drifting bluegrass you see out in your backyard every day, mocking you with its peaceful, pastoral tranquility, you could express yourself with your own funky, low-maintenance garden. Make sure you use mulch and fertilizer. Not only will this help your new plants grow, it’ll also reduce even further how often you have to water them.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’re willing to spend a little money and let your creativity flow, you could save a lot of water with a little landscaping. Gardens look great, can be fun to maintain and could increase your property value, too. The best part is you only have to commit as much as you want to; if you wanna go hog wild, knock yourself out. If you just want a couple of little shrubs around your fence, knock yourself out, uh, gently. Plus you get to call yourself a gardener, which sounds awesome. “What did you do today?” “Me? Oh, I tended to my garden.” Your grandma would be so proud. And don’t worry–just like grass, gardens all die eventually– Everything dies eventually–so you’ll still have something to give you creeping, existential anxiety just like your lawn does. Right?
Still with us? You’re too kind. We know: the drought sucks. You didn’t ask for this. Life is hard enough without having to plan your lifestyle around making sure you’re not using too much water. The public could never consume as much water as the corporate sector does with their unsustainable industry practices and we should be doing something to monitor that instead of coming after you, the poor, long-suffering Californian. We get it. We’re proud of you for doing your part. How have you elected to conserve water in your day-to-day life? If you want a couple more helpful tips, here’s 43 of them. Wow.
We know you’re serious about this water conservation thing, but don’t make yourself a martyr; you still need a working toilet. If any of your plumbing, rooting, electrical or, god forbid, air conditioning should break down, don’t feel guilty about giving your Smell Good plumber a call. We’ll get you fixed up right. We’ll also compliment your lawn: “Wow, you wouldn’t even know there was a drought. Great job!” Just another way ol’ Mike Diamond looks out for you. No need to thank us, we’re happy when you’re happy.