With winter fast approaching, Lake Tahoe residents are hoping for consistent heavy snowfall from December through April. Our love of snow isn’t just about skiing and the tourism it brings. It’s also a major water source.
Without sufficient snowfall, our risk of wildfire and drought increases in the spring. We also run the risk of permanently damaging our aquifers, plants, and forests with residential and commercial water usage.
No matter how many inches of snow fall this winter, we recommend watching your water usage and adopting some of our best practices to reduce it. California has experienced drought in six consecutive years, compelling many of us to rethink how much water we waste. Read on to learn how you can reduce the water consumption on your property.
1. Plant Flora That’s Native to the Northern California High Country
Native plants easily adapt to the soil and climate of the High Sierra. Because of this adaptation, native plants don’t require as much maintenance, pesticides, and water. The California water conservation group Save Our Water estimates that native plants can reduce homeowner’s outdoor water usage by up to 60%. To find a selection of native plants, contact your local agricultural extension.
In addition, consider removing large, fast-growing plants that require fertilizer. These kinds of plants tend to need more water and maintenance to grow successfully in our high-altitude climate.
2. Implement a Multi-Faceted Plan to Harvest Water
Water harvesting is a great way to collect rainwater and snow and recycle it on your plants and trees. To maximize how much water you can harvest on your property, use multiple sources of water harvesting.
For example, ask an experienced, professional landscape designer to create berms and other water-saving natural features in your yard. These features can help drain rainwater and snowmelt to appropriate areas of your property.
Install a water tank below your roof. The slope of your roof will direct snow runoff into the cistern, which can be used to water your garden and trees.
Try to recycle the water you use in your home and reuse it on your lawn. For example, you can keep the water you cook with, and add it to the water tank throughout the winter. You also can install a laundry-to-landscape system, which reuses the water from your washing machine and spreads it around your property. You can even try a branched drain system, which redistributes the water from your shower across your lawn.
3. Spread Mulch on Your Lawn, Around Your Trees, and Over Your Gardens
During winter, the soil on your property will freeze, restricting how much moisture your lawn, gardens, and trees can absorb. Spread up to three inches of mulch around your trees, across your lawn, and on top of your gardens. The mulch will help maintain soil temperature and retain moisture.
4. Use Your Sprinklers Sparingly
In Lake Tahoe, there are often long spells between snowstorms. These high-pressure systems create warm weather, even in if it’s the middle of the winter. Snow melts quickly, and your lawn looks brown and dry. During these periods, try to avoid using your sprinklers or use them only when absolutely necessary.
5. Let Your Lawn Go Wild
Green lawns aren’t meant for all places. In the greater Lake Tahoe area, we live in a high-desert climate. Instead of spending time and money preparing your lawn for the impending winter, consider letting it go natural.
6. Hire a Truckee-Based Landscape Designer and Irrigation Specialist
A meticulously designed, energy-efficient irrigation system can help save your lawn and gardens from drought and freeze damage. Estate Landscape, based in Truckee, CA, can design your landscape to include conservation-focused irrigation. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.