Water Conservation and Grounds Management

  January 2, 2012

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, water conservation and grounds management.

Landscape sustainability is a hot-button issue. It has become a boardroom priority in facilities, and maintenance and engineering managers without a plan for sustainability soon will find themselves at a disadvantage. The challenge for managers developing and implementing a plan comes from tougher local conservation rules, ever-increasing water costs, and stiffer federal regulations.

A variety of new techniques and strategies can help managers produce sustainable landscapes. Using the latest intelligent water-conservation and landscaping strategies, managers can earn a three-year return on investment, as well as hefty annual cost savings beyond that.

Here's one example: Xeriscaping is one eco-friendly landscaping strategy that uses plant and turf species that demand less water, are low maintenance, and are native to the geographic area.

Managers implementing xeriscaping should select regionally appropriate turf grasses to minimize post-establishment requirements for irrigation. Common choices for turf grass include ryegrass and tall fescue, which withstand droughts and maintain consistent color throughout the growing season.

Managers who are planning xeriscaping in and around parking lots and driveways that require winter anti-snow and -ice chemicals should select trees and shrubs that have a high tolerance for the potentially damaging effects of these chemicals. Trees such as white or red oak, blue spruce, and Eastern cottonwood hold up well under adverse conditions. For shrubs, forsythia, inkberry, bayberry, beach plum, and serviceberry are durable.

Managers also can choose from hundreds of tall, almost maintenance-free grasses — including beach, switch, and salt grasses — that are drought-resistant and beautiful. They are resilient and require minimal irrigation, and in winter, they add a unique visual appeal.


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