There are ways to maintain a green lawn while using less water

There are ways to maintain a green lawn while using less water

Watering and lawns: how to do more with much less

It sounds counter-intuitive, but using less water - and watering more wisely - can help your lawn thrive.

Erik Poole

Water is the new scarce resource that people do—and will—continue to battle over into the near future. On the positive side, Canadians have reduced their water consumption in recent years, in part thanks to the increasing use of meters and volume pricing. Environment Canada says that metered Canadian household use 73% less water than households on a flat-rate water pricing scheme.

Ashcroft council has decided to push water metering down the road, and instead implement irrigation time restrictions. Council would like residents to collectively consume less water in order to reduce the expected costs of a new water treatment plant.

It is unlikely that time and day restrictions would have the same impact as a well-designed volume pricing scheme. That said, consider what Greater Vancouverites and other coast dwellers have done in the absence of metering. Most do not irrigate their lawns at all, and allow them to turn yellow and brown in the summer. In many neighbourhoods, those who do irrigate their lawns stand out like sore thumbs.

It is an interesting social convention, given that the financial penalty for watering is zero. In the hot semi-arid interior of B.C., not watering at all would kill lawns, so that specific convention is unrealistic in this region. In the same spirit, if residents come together and decide what water uses can be sacrificed, then the result will be the same:  lower water consumption.

There exist a number of reasons why Ashcroft residents would individually and collectively seek to reduce water use. Many may simply love the Thompson River and the watershed that nourishes it, and recognize that all water users will have to show restraint going forward.  Reducing future utility bills also seems like a good idea.

For some, reduced water consumption will have the side-benefit of a healthier lawn better able to withstand unexpected shocks like unusually extended hot, dry periods. Here are some suggestions as to how to conserve water and have a healthier lawn by doing more with less.

Cut the grass high. Taller grass dehydrates more slowly than short grass, and chokes out weeds more effectively.

Push-reel mowers typically offer more flexibility to set the cut height high. Some of the newer models are light, easy to use, and very sharp. They are also quieter, and free of small particulate emissions.

Leave the clippings on the lawn as mulch. The lawn clippings are rich in nitrogen and water, and they slow the rate of evaporation.

Consider watering the lawn every four days, but give it a good soaking so the roots are encouraged to go deeper.

Unlike coastal B.C., not watering the lawn at all is an unattractive option in this region. During periods where temperatures hover near 40° C, every four days may not be enough.

On the other hand, if all the steps mentioned have been followed, the lawn should be much more resilient to periods of exceptionally warm, dry air, and will simply require less additional watering during occasional periods of wretched heat. The key is to deeply soak the ground and manage the lawn so as to reduce evaporation and encourage deeper root growth.

No timer? Get one! For many residents, the simple addition of a scheduler-timer to a hose connected sprinkler system will increase control and allow the system to be used at night while people are asleep, or when people are absent. The watering duration can be decreased or increased with precision. Typically, some experimentation will be required to get the mount of water right. A scheduler-timer reduces the guesswork.

The Village Office has a kit available free of charge to Ashcroft residents that contains more tips on water conservation. It also contains a handy moisture reader, and an irrigation spray collection meter that can provide valuable information to anybody adjusting their irrigation system.

So far this summer, the region has been blessed with cooler weather and frequent rains. Now is a good time to get the yard ready before the scorching, dry heat of summer arrives.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 20 centimetres of snow on the Coquihalla Highway Friday, April 9, 2021. (File photo)
Snowfall warning in effect for Coquihalla Highway

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 20 cm of snow to fall on the Coquihalla Friday

The Peach is adhering to the mandatory mask protocols put in place by the Provincial Health Officer on Nov. 19. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Interior Health doesn’t echo B.C.’s daily COVID record

80 new cases reported Thursday, April 8, compared to 91 the day prior

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

A death at Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna was reported in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak April 7. (Google Maps)
Death at Kelowna care home among Interior Health COVID numbers

91 new cases, outbreak over in one unit at Kelowna General Hospital

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read