As the heat continues and we’re all asked to be more efficient with our use of water, Property Managers are looking at how their buildings and grounds need to be using water. Here are some outdoor water usage pointers from GRITIT for FMs to help you manage those responsible for your Grounds Maintenance.
Groundwater levels throughout England naturally decline during the summer and in early summer they were not below the levels expected for the time of year. As the heat continues hosepipe bans have been introduced for domestic use in the north east and Northern Ireland, and a number of water authorities, particularly in the south have asked for customers to keep water usage to a minimum.
While the bans do not affect commercial properties in the UK if we all save a bit of water now this may help sustain enough water for people and the environment to enjoy for the rest of the season. Following sustainable practices will not only reduce water usage and save money for organisations, such practices play a role in demonstrating corporate citizenship which is also appreciated by employees and tenants.
Water Saving Pointers for Grounds Maintenance
Your local grounds maintenance provider will be able to advise on the local situation on commercial use of water for your area during a drought. Here are some pointers to establish if your team or supplier is taking, or advising on, responsible steps to conserve the use of water today and in the future.
- Selecting the right plant for the right place, growing it naturally, without over-dependence on fertilisers, is good practice and healthy plants in tune with conditions are more pest and disease resistant. The longer seasons and extreme weather events mean we need to think "climate resilient planting"
- Zonal plant and group plants that need the same amount of water so that you don’t under or over water plants
- Mature plants need less water than young ones. Perennials and low growing shrubs and grass can replace annuals and still provide changing colour displays
Grounds maintenance regimes
- Wood chips and mulching helps to retain moisture around plants
- Maintain good organic matter in the soil making the structure more resilient and aiding moisture retention and aeration
- Raise the height of mower blades to retain leaf material and aid in moisture retention for lawns and reduce stress during dry periods
- Retain the moisture of shrubs with less regimented pruning techniques that highlight the individuality of each plant and is more naturalistic
Use of water
Many species of grasses will recover from drought so do not water lawns unless really necessary
Where watering is done, early morning is best to avoid evaporation
Find ways to capture and use rainwater or ‘grey water’ rather than depending on piped water, such as rain gardens (Note: Irrigation is a specialised field and not covered in this blog)
Changing Climates and Water Attitudes
There is generally higher water usage in the summer but unlike arid regions water conservation is not a regular fact of life for us in the UK. Because water is more plentiful and relatively inexpensive some owners and managers don’t see it as a precious resource. But as demand increases and as temperatures continue to rise we will need to adopt a proper approach to water management. Here's a few more reasons why..
We recently blogged about climate resistance Grounds Maintenance in the light of possible water targets in response to the Environment Agency warning - without action to increase supply, reduce demand, and cut down on wastage, many parts of England could see significant water supply deficits by the 2050s, particularly in the South East.
2030/2040 London is heading for an anticipated deficit of 20000 litres of potable water a day and we need to be seeing rainwater in urban areas as a resource for keeping urban landscapes green rather than depending on drinking water.