7/26/2016 Update: The Charles River is at record low flows and the entire watershed is in severe drought. Predictions are that the drought will continue well into October. We are now asking you not to water your lawn during the drought whether or not your town has mandatory watering restrictions. Let your lawn turn brown (see tip #1).
Drought tolerant garden. Source: North Brookfield Water Department
As the Boston Globe reported this morning, Massachusetts is currently suffering from a drought. The Charles River Watershed is experiencing severe drought. And predictions are that there is no relief in sight.
It is crucial to conserve water now to avoid water shortages later this summer and fall. Reducing lawn watering can help cut your town’s water use by a third.Whether or not your town has instituted mandatory watering restrictions, please do your part to save water. Your actions matter!
Water shortages not only impact your community, they also harm the Charles River. The more water cities and towns need to pump to meet the demand of their residents, the less groundwater makes its way into the Charles River, harming fish and wildlife. Low water levels also concentrate existing pollution and increase the risk for cyanobacteria blooms.
Do your part to keep water in the river while ensuring that towns will have the water they need.
Conserve water now
Below are some tips for conserving water this summer while maintaining a healthy lawn or garden.
- Let your lawn turn brown. Don't fret—it will revive with cooler weather and rainfall.
- Water your lawn during the early morning or in the evening to avoid mid-day evaporation.
- Water only when your lawn needs it. Deeper, less frequent watering is better for your lawn than frequent light watering and saves water.
- When mowing your lawn, raise the mower blade level to 2-3 inches or more. Longer grass has deeper roots and retains moisture better.
- Leave the cut grass on your lawn to shade it and add nutrients to the soil.
- Mulch your garden to keep soil moist and prevent weed growth
- Add compost in your garden to increase moisture retention.
- Make good use of rain water. Use a rain barrel to capture water from your roof to water your lawn or garden.
- Bring your car to a carwash that recycles water.
- Encourage your neighbors to conserve water too.
Next year: Plant a drought tolerant garden or lawn
Keep these suggestions in mind for next fall or spring (summer is not a good time to plant as new plants need extra water).
- Choose plants that need less water. Native plants are often a good choice.
- Consider replacing some or all of your lawn with drought tolerant plants or at least more drought tolerant grass.
- Plant a rain garden. Rain gardens not only require less watering and maintenaince, they also prevent polluted runoff from entering streams and rivers.
- Keep the trees in your yard to provide shade
- Learn to build a rain garden (Charles River Watershed Association)
- Tips for planting a drought-resistant garden (Boston Globe)
- Garden and Landscaping Water Conservation Tips (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority)
- Low Water Use Plants (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority)
- Rain Barrels & Other Water Conservation Tools (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)
- Tips for Saving Water – Indoors and Outdoors (Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation)
- Water-Smart Landscapes (pdf) (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)