Pay attention to water restrictions, and cut usage inside the home too

If you’re already power smart, there’s a good chance you’re water smart too. Actions like taking shorter showers and running full loads of laundry and dishes save water and save on your energy bills.

But as drought and water restrictions hit most of B.C., what else can you do to use less water, and to use it wisely? Check our list of ideas below, and keep in mind that by mid-July, two-thirds of B.C.’s water basins were already ranked at drought level 4 or 5, the two highest levels on the scale.

“I am calling on everyone including businesses to follow water restrictions set by First Nations and local communities and to take steps to conserve water even above and beyond those restrictions,” said Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma at a July 13 briefing at the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

Check your municipality’s website for updates on water restrictions, and pay attention to them. The City of Vancouver, for example, limits manual lawn watering at residences to Saturdays (even-numbered addresses) and Sundays (odd-numbered addresses), and only from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Let that lawn go brown, or rewild your yard

A brown lawn is not a dead lawn, so consider letting your lawn go. A 2005 NASA-led study found that in most U.S. regions, up to 75% of a home’s total water usage is for lawn irrigation.

If you want to learn which grasses fare better in drought in others, check out this Better Homes & Gardens story about brown lawns. And closer to home, see the before and after photos a B.C. resident posted in a 2022 letter to the editor in the Aldergrove Star about how quickly his browning lawn bounced back.

Looking to the long term, consider turning your lawn into a meadow full of drought-resistant native plants. A cbc.ca story in May looked at the increase in “meadow-making” in Vancouver Island’s Capital Region District.

Water plants strategically, early in the morning

Water gardens slowly, in the morning, by hand, near the roots. Break up hardened dirt to allow water to soak in, and consider adding mulch to your gardens, as it shades soil and helps conserve soil moisture.

Metro Vancouver’s Growgreen Guide is a fantastic online resource for designing gardens and lawns in the Lower Mainland. Use the website’s PickAPlant search tool, to filter by plant type, sun exposure, plant height, and bloom colour.

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