The heat has decimated our comfort, wallets and lawns. If you are like most Houstonians, you already shelled out a lot of money due to increased water usage. Gardening becomes an expensive hobby when you’re trying to salvage your container garden and HOA-mandated green lawn. You might be past such concerns because your neighborhood has been placed under a water restriction to help conserve your area’s water reserves.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your water usage and some investments to help ease your water bill:

Water Conservation Outdoors

Add clay and sand to lawns to help reduce moisture loss.

Use greywater from your washer machine, dishwater and bath water to rehydrate your garden. The detergents and soaps will kill the ants, deter most pets from using your yard like a toilet, and prevent white fly infestations.  (Use detergents that are earth friendly and avoid using bleach.)

Use mist, drip, bubble or irrigation hose systems during the early morning or late evening.

Use pebbles, garden grade recycled tire treads, lawn clippings,  mulch or compost around root systems of vegetation to help retain moisture and to keep root systems cool.

Plant native shade trees that can go along time without supplemental watering. Crepe myrtles, palms, ligustrums shrubs, pin oak, live oak, and pecan trees are just a few drought resistant types. Using shade trees can prevent scorched lawns.

Use  shade tarps to decrease the temperature on plants. The tarps will allow some sunlight.  The risk of scorched leaves and brittle limbs will be reduced.

Use a pavilion or arbor to help create more shady areas in your yard. Shade will reduce evaporation and scorching.

Use gutters to capture rain and funnel it into rain barrels. You can use the captured water to nourish your plants. Currently, rain barrels are made with tops that will prevent mosquito infestation. If you use a regular container such as a tub or  a  bucket, cover the top or add a mild soap to the water to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the water.

flowers How To Conserve Water

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Using plants that don’t require supplemental watering is called xeriscaping or xenoscaping. This is a trend that is becoming more and more popular throughout the United States.

Purchase native vegetation or desert plants that can tolerate the dry conditions.

Indoor Water Conservation

Use low flush toilets  to reduce gallons of  waste water.

Installing composting toilets is even better. The toilets use little to no water, possess no odor, if used right, requires less cleaning and the humanure, composted human waste,  can be used without detriment to agriculture.  The biggest benefits are these toilets would eliminate the need for people to contaminate their drinking water with excrement and eliminate the need for waste water treatment facilities.

Placing a juice jug  filled with sand or pebbles into the toilet tank can displace water. The toilet will use less water to flush and fill the tank.

Install low flow shower heads. By replacing standard 4.5-gallon-per-minute shower heads with 2.5-gallon-per-minute heads, which cost less than $5 each, a family of four can save approximately 20,000 gallons of water per year (Jensen, 1991).

Installing faucet aerators in kitchens and bathrooms can reduce water usage by as much as 60%.  Aerators inject air into the water  and still maintain a strong stream during use.

Reduce your home’s water pressure by half.

Modify Your Personal Routines

Turn the water off while  brushing teeth and shaving.

Use a mouth rinse instead of a cup of water.

Use a damp towel to rinse your face after washing or a cleansing face pad to eliminate water usage.

Use no rinse shampoos and bath products. NASA, hospitals, people with various allergic concerns and people with hair/skin that cannot tolerate a lot of harsh chemicals already understand the benefits of  no rinse shampoos and waterless bath products. No rinse shampoos are excellent for people trying to keep the artificial color in their hair  and  are perfect for people with type 4c very curly, coily hair. Waterless pet shampoos are great for owners that don’t want to go through the  mental trials and physical tribulations of holding down a wiggly pet or paying for an expensive posh pet salon. Waterless baths have been in use by NASA, campers, hikers and hospitals for decades. Many of these products contain moisturizers, gentle cleansers and no alcohol to dry skin. The best benefit is no soap scum covered tub to clean up after.

There are many ways to conserve water by reducing usage, recycling and reusing.

For more information on water conservation please visit these sites:

Water Conservation EPA

Water Conservation, Wastewater Reduction, Water QualityProtection and Through Humanure Composting

EPA Water Sense: Indoor Water Use in The United States, gov. 2008 

HOW TO page

Learn how to do other things by checking the CBS Houston HOW TO page.

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