It’s August in California and we are enduring another season of this severe drought cycle. By now most everyone in the Golden state has realized that we are running extremely low on our precious fresh water resources and more and more drastic measures are being taken as water companies big and small enact water usage restrictions to keep the taps flowing. Lawns everywhere are browning out and gardens beds are dying. However, there is some relief to the situation in the form of rebate programs, smart irrigation technologies and greywater and rainwater harvesting.
Most local towns and cities have, for several years now, offered a cash rebate for lawn removal for homes and businesses. These “Lawn to Landscape” projects are great for California as they encourage low maintenance and drought tolerant flowering gardens which add more curb appeal and property value to our communities than a plain green (or brown) lawn ever could. They also provide much-needed beneficial habitat for birds, butterflies, and bees.
The switch from overhead sprinklers to more efficient drip irrigation will save 100’s of gallons of water per month in water use and installing a “smart” water timer with a weather-based sensor or a greywater irrigation system will push the savings even higher.
To start the process, continue to water your lawn until you contact your local water purveyor and complete the application process. Then you will have a few months window in which to install a new low water use garden plan. The rebate amounts vary, but are $1/sq. ft. on average.
Another local rebate available now to landowners in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, and Nipomo is through the Storm Rewards Program sponsored by the San Luis Coastal Resource Conservation District. This group gives up to $999 per applicant to keep as much storm water on site as possible for residential and commercial properties. Their goals are focused on reducing water quality pollution in our local creeks, but this creates a great opportunity to further conserve this much needed resource for irrigation.
Rainwater harvesting is quickly becoming a smart trend nationwide as people are looking to save money, protect water bodies, or keep their wells from drying up. There are many ways, simple to complex, to store rainwater for future irrigation use be it in tanks or allowing it to infiltrate directly into the ground in a rain garden or bioswale. These are both great ways to irrigate your garden with a local, free, environmentally friendly water source year round. You will appreciate the lower water bills as almost all of your irrigation needs will fall from the sky for free and you’ll have enough water to grow your summer vegetables too. Happy gardening!
Josh Carmichael is the founder and owner of Carmichael Environmental, a local landscape design & build firm located in San Luis Obispo. Their team is made up of Cal Poly horticulture and landscape architecture graduates and others focused on improving our environment with a hands-on approach. For more info on sustainable landscaping, water conservation techniques, or green building projects call: (805) 801-6956, visit www.carmichaelenvironmental.com or follow Carmichael Environmental on Facebook.