11 ways to fight drought

Here's how to make every drop of water count
Dick Bushnell and Jim McCausland

9. Modify lawn care. If local restrictions allow lawn irrigation, there are some things you can do to reduce the amount of water you apply. Set your mower to cut at the high end of the recommended range: 1 1/2 inches for bent grass; 2 inches for bluegrass and perennial ryegrass; 3 inches for tall fescue. Taller grass shades the soil, reducing evaporation. In early June, fertilize with 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of turf to strengthen grass before it becomes stressed. In July, cut back to a 1/2 inch of water every week; under this regime, lawns turn the color of straw and go semidormant through summer but bounce back after the weather cools.

10. Be water-wise with pots. Use glazed terra-cotta or plastic ones, which hold water better. For extra insulation, nest smaller pots inside larger ones, or bury pots up to their rims in the ground.

11. Harvest rain. Even in summer months, some rain usually falls on the Northwest, and roofs catch a lot of it. Channel runoff into a rain barrel, then use it to water container plants. Several kinds of rain barrels are available from Gardener's Supply (from $90 for a 40-gal. barrel; 800/955-3370).

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