Spring is the perfect time to work on your yard’s landscaping as the weather is warming up and plants are beginning to bloom. However, your utility bill can easily become costly if you are not careful. Responsible “wise watering” methods will help protect your investment, control your water bill and help preserve a precious resource. You can take several steps to keep your yard looking nice and the envy of your block without wasting water or breaking the bank.
An average lawn needs only one inch of water a week; too much water is more harmful than helpful. Over-watering your grass can drown the roots, causing them to rot. Deep and infrequent watering thoroughly soaks the root zone to a four-inch depth, maintains a healthy root system and reduces weed infestation. Thatch and aerate your lawn for better water filtration. Overwatering plants can also be detrimental. The best time to water is early morning when evaporation loss and the impact of the wind are lowest. You can also water in the evenings. However, this keeps leaves and grass wet for hours, making them more susceptible to fungal diseases.
When purchasing an automatic sprinkler, install a timer on the faucet. Carefully position your sprinkler, so it does not water the sidewalk, driveway or street. Money can also be saved on your utility bill when rainwater is used for landscaping instead of drinking (potable) water. One way to do this is to position your downspout so that it drains onto the lawn and garden areas rather than sidewalks or the driveway. Rain barrels can also be installed at the ends of or near downspouts to collect rainwater runoff from your roof. The collected rainwater is then easily accessible for watering your lawn and garden.
Keep in mind that County zoning regulations require that grass not become overgrown. Grass over 12 inches tall for an occupied residential property, up to a 1/2 acre in size, is required to be cut. Grass over six inches for an unoccupied or vacant property requires remediation, except for land used as an active farming operation. If a property in your neighborhood has tall grass, you can contact the Zoning Department at (540) 658-8668 to report the address or location of concern. Once a violation is identified, notice will be sent by first-class mail or personal delivery.
Using native plants and grasses is encouraged for landscaping as they grow best in the climate, require less water and are more sustainable. Organic mulches, such as aged manure, compost, bark or woodchips, can help retain moisture and minimize evaporation. Invasive plant species should not be used as they threaten Virginia’s forests, marshes, wetlands and waterways. For a list of Virginia Invasive Plant Species List visit: https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/invsppdflist.