Horticulture 101

Watering Down the Facts


“With the possible exception of oxygen, it’s tough to imagine any one substance being more essential to life than water. And increasingly, water is becoming an ever more precious resource” as stated in the July 2016 edition of Turf Magazine’s article “The Changing Landscape of Water”. This article prompted my thinking about the manner in which we are protecting or maximizing our use of water in our daily lives, of course most notably as it relates to our gardens and landscapes. Water is crucial for the survival of our lawns, decorative plantings or fruits and vegetables. We are not experiencing a drought as many other areas of the country are but that does not mean we are not affected or do not need to be proactive as it relates to our local and regional water supply.  As owner of a design/build firm, I have the opportunity to be a part of the solution. This is certainly true as I implement newer options or technology for the homeowners that employ my company.

As homeowners, there are several avenues you may employ to be a part of this solution or not a continued addition to the problem. As I previously discussed in my article on Urban Homesteading, “Rainwater harvesting is (another) great way to get your feet wet (no pun intended) with urban homesteading and reduce your carbon footprint. Rainwater harvesting is merely accumulating and storing rainwater on your property for re-use.” One of the most common ways to collect and recycle water for our personal uses is through rain barrel installations. Rain barrels can be easily attached to a downspout and have the potential to collect up to 150 gallons of water during a one inch rainfall. Collecting that amount of water could allow you to water plantings, wash your car or let your kids fill up their water guns to play during the hot summer months without tapping into the city supply.


If you would like to and are able, a larger impact can be made by installing an underground cistern which was recently done for my clients in Dilworth during the construction of their new home. This option may simply be more feasible if you are renovating or constructing a new home as the cistern installed on this property was the size of a small swimming pool (approximately 6000 gallons). This is also a multi-step process which requires coordination with the City of Charlotte but the end result will be able to supply their irrigation system and additional outdoor water needs.


Irrigation systems and associated products are also making an impact in this area with increased technology. The simple addition of a rain sensor which allows them to monitor rainfall and disengage the system if it is not needed preserves the water supply. The enhancement of “smart” systems along with more efficient nozzles, weather systems, etc. will allow irrigation systems to require less water and create less waste and run off. New “smart” systems use evapotranspiration to adjust the system daily and can isolate your property’s needs versus a more regional view. The majority of homeowners in this area have older but functioning systems with rain sensors but not necessarily “smart” systems which could be employed and no doubt benefit the water supply as a whole.

We can also conserve water with various other design changes to a landscape such as reducing the overall lawn space which of course would reduce the need to irrigate that portion of your property. The addition of artificial turf or hardscape spaces would easily aid in water preservation. Also, a greater effort to utilize native or regionally adapted plants will cut back on the need for extra watering.

Each of these efforts is feasible and workable for Dilworth residents. Our ability to be proactive now will determine the forecast of our water supply in the future which affects us and the future residents of our community. Recycling, maximizing and conserving our water resources are responsibilities that we share as we also share the use of the supply. Not to seem melodramatic but literally “every drop counts”…ensure that you are using your drops wisely. If you would be interested in implementing any of these water saving features into your outdoor space, please reach out via info@myrongreer.com.               


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