Save on utility costs and labor when maintaining your landscape this summer. Rain barrels and other alternative methods to watering and upkeep will make this season easier on your wallet. You also get the environmental advantage of conserving water using these tips from the HBA.
“A good option for cheaper watering is low-flow irrigation,” explains Jacqueline Sarach of Rivertown Landscaping. “It’s effective, conserves water, and even prevents some diseases on plants that are due to overhead watering.” Also known as micro-irrigation, drip and low-flow watering systems use much less water than conventional methods. They regulate the amount of water supplied, taking the guesswork out of watering rates, and they distribute water close to individual plants, so water goes only where it’s needed, soaking slowly into the root zone, and isn’t wasted on walkways and weeds or lost to evaporation and wind.
Some specific low maintenance plants require less water because they are more suited to the climate they are planted in. This is another smart way to add lush landscaping while boasting less work and costs less because of their natural adaption to the Michigan climate. You can determine which plants you should plant in your area by referencing the Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Look for plants and flowers that will thrive in your area. West Michigan is in Zone 6 with a few areas in 5. Flowers like daffodils, peonies, lilacs, and chrysanthemum will bloom in Zone 6 during the spring and summer.
An option growing in popularity is rain barrels. You can save up to 1800 gallons of water per summer season in Grand Rapids. Depending on the type of rain barrel you purchase, you can make up the costs of setting up with the water bill savings from the system. Each year after, you can save approximately $23-$32 dollars every summer. While this number may seem insignificant, when properly taken care of rain barrels can last a lifetime. In just 10 years, with one barrel, you could save $300 on water costs alone. When deciding to install a rain barrel, the most common way to collect rainwater is from the home’s roof, which is usually directed via gutters and downspouts into a rain barrel or a cistern for later use. For every inch of rain that falls on a catchment area of 1,000 square feet, you can collect up to 600 gallons of rainwater! “Rainwater is naturally good for plants,” says Sarach. “It doesn’t contain the minerals, chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals that municipal water does.” This means it can be used directly from the rain barrel or cistern without special filtering.
“I love having a rain barrel,” says HBA Communications Director Tanya Gonzalez. “We have it rigged up to water our vegetable garden through a soaker hose so my plants get the water they need and I don’t have to worry about it. We let Mother Nature take care of it for us.” Rain barrel water can be safely used to irrigate a vegetable/herb garden. Pathogen treatment should be conducted and best practices utilized when applying the water. If a rain barrel is the right choice for your lawn and garden, consider the following to ensure a safe rainwater collection system.
Whether you decide to go with a rain barrel or an alternative low-maintenance landscaping method, you can DIY or go with one of our pros to ensure the best set up and appearance for the summer. Our landscaping experts at the HBA have the experience and talent to transform your yard into something spectacular. In addition, many businesses in Grand Rapids also have workshops you can attend to learn how to best install and maintain a rain barrel. Keeping a nice-looking lawn and garden doesn’t have to be an expensive hassle. Once you have a good setup, you can let Mother Nature do her work keeping your plants looking lush and your vegetables delicious.