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Water Budgets Offer Win-Win: Water Efficiency and Strong Plants

Post Date:02/05/2019 2:17 PM

February Water BlogGilbert, Ariz. - Did you know that you can help save 1/3 of Gilbert’s water supply by watering efficiently? It’s true! Due to the fact that almost 70% of Gilbert’s drinking water is used outside – double the amount of water our yards actually need to be healthy and attractive – we have a lot of room to save. And, as if you needed another reason, watering efficiently will also save you money and keep your plants healthy!

Keep in mind, watering efficiently doesn’t mean under-watering; we aren’t here to stress your plants. We know that thriving landscapes create substantial value, beauty, and wellbeing in Gilbert, but we also know how precious water is in the desert. That’s why we created a Water Calculator and a Water Budget Program to help, whether you are a resident or a business, to determine just how much water your plants need each month with our Water Budget Tool.

Right now you’re probably thinking, “You just said you wouldn’t stress my plants, but a budget sounds very restrictive!” Don’t fret, when it comes to water, budgeting isn’t about restrictions, it’s about efficiency! We promise! But, in case you don’t believe us, we have revealed the inner-workings of the Water Budget Tool so you can trust it is based on science and proven success.

Climate

Most of us plan our year around the general expectations of temperature, rainfall, and humidity each season. This is because, year after year, we have the same weather at the same time of year. These long term, prevailing weather conditions define our climate. While most of us describe our climate in adjectives (i.e. hot or really hot), scientists define climate by specific, measurable factors such as solar radiation, humidity, temperature, and wind. These factors are important to measure since they all contribute to how much water evaporates from our soils, pools, plants, and lakes. Scientists combine these factors into one metric called the evapotranspiration rate that we use to predict how much water our plants will use and how much water will evaporate from soils and water bodies in a given season.

By using the historic evapotranspiration rate, we can estimate how much water your plants will need each month of the year. While the amount of water may need to be slightly increased or decreased if the weather is particularly strange on a given year, the evapotranspiration rate provides a solid baseline to start a water budget for your property. From here, we consider the specific type of plants on your property.

Plant and Grass Type

We all love plants: tall plants, short plants, green plants, flowing plants, and so on. But not all plants are the same, especially in our hot, dry desert! In fact, due to our extreme temperatures and limited rain, plants originating from wetter parts of the world can have a tough time, requiring lots of water and attention. Desert plants, however, can endure the harsh desert climate with ease, requiring fewer gallons and less attention.

This goes for our grass, too. Bermuda, our typical summer grass, thrives in triple-digit temperatures but can’t handle our relatively cool winters. Rye, our typical winter grass, keeps our parks and yards pleasant through the winter but simply won’t survive the heat. In addition to different temperature ranges, these grasses have different water requirements.

We factor in your plant and grass type when we calculate a water budget so you can be sure your plants are getting the correct amount of water. We don’t ever want to starve plants of water, but we do want to give them the right amount.

Planted Area

Not only do we consider what kind of plants you have, but we also consider how many of those plants you have. By measuring your landscape using aerial photographs, we can determine the square footage of each type of vegetation, grass and/or plants, and how thick or dense your landscape is.

Water Budget

Now we are ready to combine all the information we collected, including evapotranspiration rate, plant type and area, to produce a monthly water budget for your property. From here, we can fine-tune your budget throughout the year by making adjustments based on real-time weather monitoring. Remember, our water budgets are based on years of scientific research and has proven success in Gilbert! If you don’t believe us, ask one of our Water Wise Gilbert partners or residents that have thriving landscapes based on our Water Budget Tool.

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