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The following is a list of measures gardeners can take to help during a drought emergency.
1. Keep plants healthy by proper fertilization and pruning. A thriving plant can survive with less water. (Use a good well balanced partially organic fertilizer to build a healthy root system in lawns and other plants. Avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers for lawns. They promote leaf growth. With a healthy root system, the green will come back when we begin to get some good rains)
2. Keep at least 2 inches or more of mulch in planted areas. This truly conserves moisture demand. (Mulches are very effective. Shredded barks and mulch are better than wood chips but Nuggets or wood chip are better than open ground. Use whatever you can get. Grass clippings can even help but be careful with their use if you use weed killers or insecticides on the lawn.)
3. Rid your garden of weeds and undesirable plants. They will highly compete for moisture.
4. Where applicable, use cisterns or any other means of catching rain water and recycle it. (Check these water collectors in a timely fashion to make sure mosquitoes are not breeding in them).
5. Watering in the the early morning is far more beneficial for lawns and plants than the heat of the day when much evaporation occurs.
6. Use soaker hoses wherever feasible. They water the root zone, which is the most critical. (You can also look into drip irrigation systems. Like soaker hoses, they are fairly inexpensive and very effective at getting water where needed. Soaker hoses are the cheapest and are highly recommended.)
7. In considering new plantings, where possible utilize varieties that are more drought tolerant.
8. Be sure that your sprinkler systems arenít running when it is raining out. Nothing looks more wasteful! Also be sure no sprinklers are running into the street. Be very conservative with lawn watering. Most lawns are over watered. Keep the lawn well fed, insect free, and disease free.
9. Donít hose down your driveway or patio. Use a broom! This is totally wasteful.
10. If you see someone neglecting good water conservation, politely tell him or her how much damage they are doing to this precious resource.
By utilizing these principles and good "Common Sense", we can all do our part to save water. It is estimated that as much as 40% of the water used in lawns and gardens is not necessary and goes wasted!