One of the biggest potable water uses is outdoor irrigation. You can conserve this resource by installing a rainwater-harvesting system or a gray-water system, upgrading your irrigation system with rain and moisture sensors, replacing plants with more drought-tolerant species, or simply adding a few more inches of mulch around your plants. These are all great improvements and all will definitely result in a lower water bill. However before you do any of these you might consider fixing your soil.
Studies have shown that healthy soil absorbs and retains up to 50 percent more water than unhealthy soils. Can you imagine cutting your outdoor water consumption by over 50 percent? Not only would this result in a significant drop in your water bill, it would be beneficial for your plants. A recent study done at Santa Fe Community College focused on rain gardens and rain-retention basins, which are just depressions in the soil. The study titled “Stormwater Irrigation: Can Retention Basins Significantly Improve Soil Moisture?” measured the amount of moisture stored in the ground near retention ponds versus adjacent flat, undisturbed soil. It concluded that such basins capture and retain significant amounts of water.
Instead of building dams around trees, build a depression to capture and retain the water. These simple structures can be used anywhere to retain rainwater, which infiltrates slowly into the soil.
The study highlighted the fact that catchment basins could sustain mature trees in the absence of irrigation systems. A catchment basin stores between eight and 16 days of extra water. For this study, two retention basins were constructed off the parking lot of the college’s Kid’s Campus. Rainwater is fed to these basins through curb cuts. Adjacent to the basins are curb cuts that allowed stormwater to exit to the native grassland off the parking lot.–by Doug Pushard for The New Mexican.
Mimic Mother Nature to conserve by Doug Pushard for The New Mexican.
“Stormwater Irrigation: Can Retention Basins Significantly Improve Soil Moisture?” a research report by Santa Fe Community College. http://www.southwesturbanhydrology.com/
NewTerrain February 15, 2016.