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Old Sep 5th, 07, 10:39 am   #1
laurie
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Need Some "Green" Ideas

Ok......here's the problem. My mom's new house is in the next county and that county get's it's water from St. Louis Co. My mom's latest water bill: $119.00 for 1 month The highest mine has every been here in St. Louis County in the summer with watering is about $85.00 for 3 months. Her neighbors bill was $179.00 for 1 month, and another was over $200.

Besides putting in artificial turf, what do you all recommend?

Her front yard is sloping, so my hubby and I were thinking of burying a couple rain barrels and run lines out to the yard for watering. Anyone have experience with this? Any other ideas?

The first couple weeks in October we'll be ripping out all the sod because the builder didn't put one speck of topsoil on top of the bright orange clay and rock soil she has. Can't grow a thing in that stuff!! We'll be bringing in trucks of dirt and starting from scratch. We'd like to take care of the watering problem at the same time.

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 11:21 am  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

Here in AZ, they pay you to take OUT sod! We have serious water issues, so we do something called xeriscaping. That's using native and drought tolerant plants that are known to survive in the area without much water. I'm sure there are plants and other vegetation that do quite well in your area with the native weather, your local nursery should know about them. We use a lot of rock LOL

Another thing we use is drip irrigation. That's a slow-release, deep watering system that you have to install before you landscape, but it has the advantage of not evaporating quickly so it uses much less water and it goes deeper, which is better for plants. I have soaker hoses for my planter boxes and turn them on for half an hour twice a day, in the morning when it's cool and after it cools off in the evening to minimize evaporation loss.

You get rain there, so rain capture is a great idea.

And also, check to see if there's a leak anywhere, that can really rack your bill up! You need to turn off all the water sources inside the house and then check the meter to see if it's still running.

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 11:40 am  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

Double the caution on possible leaks -- we had two leaks that we didn't know about, but once we had them fixed, we noticed an immediate lowering of our water bills.

We love our rain barrels, and I highly recommend them. I was purchasing during the wrong time of year, apparently, so I had to order mine online, but online is also good for research -- try

Using Rain Barrels for Water Collection
Clean Air Gardening supply, reel mowers, composters, garden tools
Composters.com - Compost Bins, Vermiculture (Worms), Composting Accessories

We had new gutters going in, so we had the gutter guys end the downspout right into our barrels. You can also get diverters or cut the downspouts. We attached drip irrigation hoses to the barrels, and I haven't had to water the garden much at all (I also xeriscape, so there aren't huge garden water needs anyway).

You might also think about other types of groundcover, rather than sod. I've been adding clover to our lawn, since clover has deeper roots and therefore needs less watering. I know there are websites out there devoted to less lawn maintenance, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Inside, after checking for leaks, try aerators on the sink faucets and water-saving shower heads. You can find stuff like that at sites like Conserve water and save money with our water filters, shower filters, rain barrels, water heaters, and other ecofriendly products.

Also think about some uses of water -- the little ones like turning off the water while brushing teeth or lathering up in the shower, or the larger ones like reusing bathwater (supposing your mom uses benign soap bubbles) for garden purposes. Foregoing the pre-dishwasher rinse saves money (since most new DWs clean well enough without the pre-rinse). Making sure the DW and the clothes washer are full before using them also saves water.

Good luck!

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 11:44 am  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

Thanks Eva. I called the water company today and they said the bill was normal. Ugh!! My hubby can obtain some 50 gallon barrels that we could modify to capture the rain and get it out to the yard. If anyone knows of any websites that may help us, that would be great.

I was kidding with dh and told him maybe we should just go southwest with her yard and bring in sand. However, that would just wash away with the rain!! Or maybe we should dig a well!!

Edited to add: Thanks for the websites, greenie. I can't imagine that they use very much water besides all the watering outside with the extreme lack of rain this summer. They're just two older people who probably don't do more than 4 loads of laundry a week. I'll definitely research the web. In her tiny backyard, we're going to take out all grass and replace with a large, recirculating water pond and plantings/flowers. The front yard is only 40' x 40'. I'm going to make a couple large planting areas and look into what type of grass will do best. I'm thinking maybe zoysia would be best to handle the heat. Although here in St. Louis, it's the first to die in the fall and the last to green in the spring. Oh well.

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Last edited by laurie; Sep 5th, 07 at 11:50 am..
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Old Sep 5th, 07, 11:58 am  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

Some great ideas/links here... We use drip/soaker hoses in all our garden beds under the mulch, probably one of the best ideas we had when we really got into gardening. It's a LOT more efficient and better for the plants as it encourages them to grow their roots DOWN instead of out if you do periodic deep watering rather then more frequent surface watering.

**non-sequitor alert**

Actually the timing of this thread is actually kind of amazing, Susan and I were just talking about the fact that many of our members have a strong "Green" commitment as do we, and IKEA itself for that matter. Seems like there should be a place for discussions about Green methods/alternatives?

I was just speculating whether we should consider renaming the "Healthy Lifestyles" in Chats to something like "Green Living and Healthy Choices"?

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 12:03 pm  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

I'm interested in how much water we're talking about to do this watering. We used rainwater collection for a couple years on a garden, but we knew how much water we needed. Will a rainwater collection system be large enough with one or two barrels for the watering? Can you measure it (I'm sure you must be able to buy some type of indicator for useage that fits on the hose).

Is not watering an option? Where I live, everyone is on wells, and no one waters their lawn......of course, all my neighbors are like me and abhor mowing, so it's no big deal to have a brown lawn.

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 12:12 pm  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

Heh...

Our lawn is mostly native weeds, but it's DANG tough and it's generally green, so I just call the copious weeds in our lawn "Greenery diversification" and let it got at that.

Susan's main screen name (GardenofDarwin) is pretty much a summary of our gardening philosophy, plant things that will grow well in your area. If we plant something and it dies with our minimal care, then it's not suited for our garden ::shrug:: There are often ground cover alternatives that are either native or from similar climates that will thrive in your normal conditions. The commercial ideal of a golf course type turf is frequently impractical and commits you to a lot of work to maintain it.

'Course it's totally a personal choice, but if you're starting from scratch I'd try and take a look at it with a wide open mind. What kind of traffic does the lawn see? There might be a low traffic alternative that doesn't grow high and thus wouldn't require much (if any) mowing.

James

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 12:50 pm  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

I vote for an "It's not easy being green!" forum title.

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 1:07 pm  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

You know, I lived in St. Louis for many years and don't recall people needing to water their lawns all that much in the summer: if properly established, grass should be able to take advantage of periodic thunderstorms. You're absolutely on the money about improving the soil. Good soil gives the grass (and other plants!) room to grow deeper roots. Once grass has been established, gradually shift the watering schedule to one which is infrequent but long and deep, preferably in very early morning or late evening. This will encourage those deeper roots so that seasonal rainfall is sufficient & eventually overall watering totals can be reduced.

You might also consider reducing the slope by adding a small retaining wall at the sidewalk. Think about switching to a different grass too (check the extension service or talk to the experts at the Botanical Garden: years ago they were testing grasses for local hardiness and they must have good data by now!). All of this will be harder to accomplish because you're coming up on the drier part of the year, but if you improve the soil now, you can have a much more frugal season next year. Good luck

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Old Sep 5th, 07, 5:16 pm  
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Re: Need Some "Green" Ideas

I love the idea of a "green" forum! One of the big reasons we chose Ikea was because of the minimal ---and almost completely recyclable-- packaging! (I'm planning to use all the tissue to wrap my Christmas presents this year...)

On the yard: have you considered looking into using native plants in your garden? They are uniquely adjusted to the climate and rainfall and tend to thrive well in that Darwinistic way. Maybe one of the St Louis universities has an agricultural extension program that could help you find beautiful local plants and grasses?

Best of luck and thanks for helping us all by working to save water in your home!
Sara

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