While the weather is cool, Phoenix area residents start to emerge and spend more time outdoors enjoying the more moderate temperatures. With this in mind, it’s a good time to take the opportunity to review the outdoor water usage of your property and determine if some changes should be made.
With respect to that, here is an overview of some different aspects of outdoor water choices a homeowner can make in the fall:
- If you wash your own car, don’t let the hose run while you soap up the car. A sprayer with an on/off feature goes a long way.
- If your water bill is really hitting you hard, you may want to forego the winter ryegrass and use drought-tolerant plant material, ground cover, and flowers. Your plumber can put in low water use fixtures in your sinks and showers, and help find a leak if you think you have one. Together, we can make a difference in water use, to save you water and money, which can add up substantially over time.
If your home has a bermudagrass lawn, it will be dormant when the temperatures are cool. Newcomers to the Valley often believe bermudagrass is either dead or doesn’t need watering when it’s dormant, although, of course, neither of these are true. But, since it does go dormant, the decision needs to be made whether or not to overseed the bermudagrass with ryegrass.
Planted ryegrass will require regular watering to maintain it. Many families opt not to have a winter lawn, thus saving on the water bill. During the summer, a bermudagrass lawn requires watering, so some homeowners opt for a ‘rest’ during the winter. Those homes which are part of an HOA will have to abide by the HOA regulations as applied to lawns.
Xeriscape is a fancy name for low-water-use plantings and landscaping. Low water use plants have found their way into the hearts and landscapes of many people. We don’t argue the value of their economy and attractiveness in general, but we also recognize the value of the transpiration of plant material, which transfers cooling moisture and oxygen into the air. This moisture explains why you feel cooler when you step beneath leafy trees than you do when you step into the shade of a building.
The ‘heat island effect’ we feel here in Phoenix is the result of many buildings, concrete, and asphalt in relation to the number of plants and trees. However, well-placed shade trees can provide a cooling effect, especially when combined with ground cover plantings or lawn. This ‘mini-oasis,' when properly planned, can bring respite to the homeowner and their electric bill in summer.
Fruit trees and gardens
Many people prefer to have flower or vegetable gardens as a means of beautifying their home and providing a supplement to their grocery cart. September is the primary month for fall planning of October gardens and flowers and January is a big planning month for the February plantings here in the Valley. Phoenix gardeners are turning over their flower beds now in preparation for next month.
Periodically, you should check your water meter for leaks, especially if you have an irrigation system. If the water level in your swimming pool seems to drop suddenly, that should also be checked out. By shutting off all of the water-using devices, a homeowner can check for water leaks by watching their water meter for movement after a two-hour period. Any leaks should be found and repaired. It is estimated that Americans alone waste over a trillion gallons per year as the result of leaks. Some of these leaks are tiny culprits, a bad toilet flapper or a leaking irrigation line, but they cost us because of their constancy. Here is a handy guide on how to check an irrigation system for leaks.