Posted tagged ‘Rain Gardens’

7 ways to appreciate water

March 17, 2015

World Water Day 2015

Water is essential to life and human health. Up to 60% of the adult human body is water. We can survive for weeks without food, but after 3-5 days, we need water or we’ll perish. Every day, we need water for drinking, cooking, personal hygiene, and sanitation.

In Hawaii, we have access to clean drinking water, clean sanitation systems, and a healthy ocean. But sometimes we take water for granted. On March 22, let’s celebrate World Water Day and take time to be thankful for our water-rich island life.

Here are 7 ways we can appreciate clean water, Hawaii’s watersheds, and healthy oceans:

1. Learn all about water basics. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Science School has great resources about water basics, water properties, the water cycle, surface water, groundwater, water quality, and water use; as well as activities for students and classrooms.

2. Learn about water and human health. Project WET has a free, downloadable “Healthy Hydration” classroom activity guide. Students can learn about the role of water in the human body, proper hydration, and why water is essential to human life.

3. Be aware of your water usage. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has a catchy program, “Seven Easy Ways to Save Water”; and a longer list of water conservation tips, “32 Ways to save water, from the watershed to your home.”

4. Discover Hawaii’s watersheds and wetlands. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has a short introduction to Hawaii’s wetlands and “Rainforests and the Water Cycle.” The Pacific Coast Joint Venture has a beautiful downloadable brochure called “Hawaii’s Wetlands: Mauka to Makai” and a companion poster.

5. Educate yourself about Hawaii’s watersheds and public policy. Read “Hawaii Watershed Guidance” (2010), a report prepared for the Hawaii Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program, to learn about the six steps in watershed management, the nine minimum elements of a watershed plan, and the management measures needed to demonstrate results.

6. Help keep our beaches clean. On March 28, 2015, 8:30 to 11 am, join a Plastic Free Hawaii Beach Cleanup at Ka’ena Point, Mokuleia, on Oahu. On March 28, 2015, join the Hawaii Wildlife Fund for a Kaʻū Community Coastal Cleanup event at Kamilo Point along the Waiʻōhinu coastal strand. Volunteers should RSVP to kahakai.cleanups@gmail.comand meet at Waiʻōhinu Park at 7:45am to carpool/caravan to the site.

7. Plan a rain garden or rain barrel project. Rain gardens can reduce the amount of stormwater and pollution that reaches Hawaii’s streams and the ocean. Rain barrels can store water for lawns and gardens, as well as reduce flooding and excess rain water runoff into storm drains. Hui o Ko’olaupoko’s “Hawaii Residential Rain Garden Manual” teaches us how to construct a rain garden, select plants and accent features, and maintain a healthy rain garden. Malama Maunalua’s “E Mālama I Nā ‘Āina Kumu Wai O Maunalua: A Watershed Handbook for the Residents of Maunalua” has a section about how to locate, install, and maintain a rain barrel.

Are you using water wisely? What are your best water conservation tips?

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Smarter Hawaii landscaping

June 17, 2014

Koko Head District Park Rain Garden

Now that summer is here, with some of the hottest and driest days of the year in Hawaii, it’s a good time to take a second look at our lawns and gardens. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply estimates that 50% of our water consumption is used outdoors, sometimes wastefully. Adding a rain garden, changing our irrigation schedule, or choosing lower-maintenance “unthirsty” plants could help conserve water.

Xeriscaping – conserving water through efficient landscaping – is one way that we can save water, as well as save money on our water bills, and keep our yards, sidewalks, and public spaces beautiful.

Here are 7 principles of xeriscaping, according to the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaii:

1. Make a landscaping plan. Good planning and design allows you to install your landscape in phases, which minimizes initial expenses.

2. Limit and separate turf areas. Grassed areas frequently require the greatest amount of watering. Consider replacing or reducing grassed areas with ground covers or mulches. Separate turf grass from trees, shrubs, ground covers, and flowering plants, so that they can be irrigated separately.

3. Have a well-planned sprinkler system.For efficient water use, group garden plants according to similar water needs. Turf areas are best watered with sprinklers. Trees, shrubs, garden flowers and ground covers can be watered efficiently with low volume drip, spray or bubbler emitters. To reduce water waste, water lawns and gardens before 9 am and after 5 pm; and use moisture sensors (devices that shut down the sprinklers when the ground is wet or on rainy days).

4. Make soil improvementsSoil improvements and efficient grading can better absorb and retain water. But do them before installing your irrigation systems!

5. Create mulched planting bedsMulches cover and cool soil, minimize evaporation, reduce weed growth, and slow erosion. They also create landscape interest, while using less water than turf grass. Organic mulches (such as bark chips, wood grindings or bagasse) and inorganic mulches (such as rock and gravel) should be placed directly on the soil or on breathable fabric.

6. Choose “less thirsty” plants. There are many flowering trees, shrubs, vines, and turf grasses that are both beautiful and require less water. Native Hawaiian plants especially thrive on natural rainfall.

7. Do regular maintenance. Pruning, weeding, proper fertilization, pest control, and adjustments to your irrigation system can further your water savings.

If you need inspiration for your garden, stop by the Healthy Watershed Demonstration site at the entrance to Koko Head District Park in East Honolulu (pictured above). The sloping, sunken garden, which filters rainwater and lets it soak into the ground, is surrounded by rocks and native Hawaiian plants. It’s installed and maintained by Mālama Maunalua, a community non-profit organization.

Looking for Native Hawaiian plants? Read the “How to Plant a Native Hawaiian Garden” handbook from the Office of Environmental Quality Control. Or check out the Annual Halawa Xeriscape Garden Open House on August 2, 2014 and their Unthirsty Plant Sale.

Interested in taking a xeriscaping class? Visit the Honolulu Board of Water Supply for a list of and workshops on Oahu.

How do you conserve water? What are the easiest and cheapest ways to cut down on your water bill?