By Michelle Portesi
All of drought riddled California has mandated water restrictions, and the Lake Tahoe and Truckee area is no different.
In Truckee, the Truckee Donner PUD must decrease water production by 28%. As a result, watering with potable water is restricted to two days a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays ONLY.
*Plant containers, trees, shrubs, ground cover, and vegetable gardens may be watered as needed when using automatic drip irrigation or hand watering.
For more Truckee Donner PUD info, go here: http://www.tdpud.org/departments/water/complying-with-state-drought-regulation
Placer County at Lake Tahoe has similar restrictions. Residents watering days are restricted to 3 and the days allowed are based on even or odd addresses. No watering between 9am and 8pm. Fines are hefty, as much as $500 per day, and can include water restrictions or even water shut off for violations.
For more on Tahoe City’s PUD restrictions, go here: http://conservation.tcpud.org
For more on North Lake Tahoe’s PUD restrictions, go here: http://ntpud.org/conservation
So now that you know the basic rules, here are some tips to stretch every inch of water that is often wasted down the drain and some other helpful suggestions for drought tolerant landscaping.
1. Keep a bucket in the shower to catch wasted water while you wait for the hot water to arrive. I do this regularly to water my small planter and potted plants.
2. Invest in a large container to store all your captured waste water. Situate containers outside under the low rake of your roof. I was amazed at how much water rolled off of my roof into my water container when we get those intense thunderstorms.
3. When hand washing, rinse your dishes in a separate dish pan. Lightly soapy water can be added to your captured waste water container. Using bio-degradable soups certainly helps cut down on any unwanted chemicals that might linger in the water.
4. From a buyer and seller real estate perspective, barren dirt, or even worse, weeds, don’t do much to add any curb appeal. However, adding to a lot of water guzzling plants isn’t a smooth move either. Think of installing an inexpensive patio instead of planting barren dirt areas around your home. I have a small planter in from of my apartment, and in front of that, were small patches of barren (or weed riddled) dirt areas that turned to mud when it rained, and was dusty and uninviting when it didn’t. Instead of planting the entire area, (which would require A LOT more hand watering) I decided to get inexpensive concrete brick like tiles and just dry set them in place. The addition of an inexpensive Adirondack chair in front of my small planter, now affords me a lovely spot to have my morning coffee or read a book in the afternoon without sitting in dirt or mud.
5. I confess that a) I’m no fan of lawns – or mowing them ..and/or b) living in a rental, there are limits to the amount of bucks I’m willing to spend on someone else’s property. Think about throwing some native wildflower seeds about. Blue flax and California poppies make an eye catching wildflower display when randomly dispersed and after established, you can view them as a ‘sink or swim’ option. These along with lupine and chicory can often be seen growing wild with no watering throughout the Tahoe/Truckee area. Other ornamental plants that actually like very little water are Russian sage, oriental poppies, penstemon and even roses. Scatter seeds about in some lightly tilled soil just before a predicted thunderstorm. Then just sit back and see what germinates. Whatever comes up is better than just dirt and weeds. After the plants go to seed, be sure to harvest them to scatter about next year.
6. Don’t water in the heat of the day as most of the water will evaporate into the atmosphere instead of watering your plants. Consider putting in drip systems that water more efficiently with less water.
7. Consider artificial lawns. Today’s offerings can be really believable as real, and new technology has created artificial turfs that are water permeable as well. While the initial investment can be hefty, think of all the time and money you’ll save by no longer having to mow and feed it to keep it looking nice. In addition, you’ll be helping to preserve our waterway’s clarity by not adding algae producing chemicals to our lakes and streams.
THINK OF ME, LYNN RICHARDSON, FOR ALL OF YOUR LAKE TAHOE AND TRUCKEE REAL ESTATE NEEDS!