Released June 14, 2011
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A string of dry, hot days has prompted homeowners to start up the sprinklers and drag around the hoses, keeping one eye on wilting yards and the other eye on their water bill and well.
"The heat is really affecting Calhoun County - first and foremost, home gardens are really suffering," said Jaret Rushing, Calhoun County extension agent with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. "We are seeing more tomato wilt due to increased heat and dust. In fact, it seems after last summer's extreme heat and drought conditions plus this year's heat so far, people are extremely concerned about the water table.
"Many people still use wells as a primary source of water, and if the wells dry up, there will be trouble," he said. "I ran my well too low watering my garden and had to wait several hours to re-prime my pump. Needless to say, I'm rationing water like a champ now."
Here are a few things you can do to conserve water this summer while keeping your own yard and garden in shape, according to Mark Brown, water conservation county extension agent with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
First, don't overwater. Lawns usually need watering every three to five days in the summer if there has not been a significant rainfall. Also, keep in mind when to water. Most important is to avoid watering during the heat of the day as it will evaporate. Instead, water during the early morning or early evening hours when temperatures are lowest.
"Be sure to water only your lawn," he said. "When you set out sprinklers, make sure the water hits your grass and not the street, driveway, sidewalk or neighbor's yard."
Keep the sprinkler system working efficiently by fixing any leaks, retrofitting an existing system with any new technology that may help water effectively and efficiently, and install drip irrigation in areas if possible.
Next, set mower blades so grass s cut high. This helps the grass grow deeper roots and holds more moisture. Add mulch around vegetable and flower plants to keep more water in the soil and control weeds.
"If you use plants that are native to the state, you won't have to water as frequently, and the plants will have a better chance of surviving as they have adapted to dry and drought conditions," Brown said.
Other ways to save water to ensure you have water available for the lawn and, is to use a commercial car wash, which uses much less water than a home car washing.
"If you prefer taking a bucket to the job, wash your car on the grass instead of in the driveway so it can get the benefits of the water runoff," Brown said.
Lastly, think about ways to minimize, eliminate or reuse water.
"For example, if you boil pasta, use the water afterward for your house plants," he said. "When you brush your teeth or wash your face, turn off the faucet until you're ready to rinse.
"All of these things will ensure water will be there when you need it to keep you and your lawn and garden healthy and cool," Brown said.
University of Arkansas, http://www.uaex.edu/news/june2011/0614Save_Water.htm
Contact: Mark Brown, (501) 340-6650, firstname.lastname@example.org