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Green Boots Notes: Landscape & Water Efficiency

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Presentation 1

Sustainable Landscape Design

Elizabeth McGreevy – landsteward.net

DECREASE CONSTRUCTION IMPACT

  •      Re-purpose Materials
  •      Recycle Materials post-construction
  •      Use materials that last and require less maintenance

INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY

  •      Reduce carbon footprint with local food production

DECREASE IRRIGATION NEEDS

  •      Reuse Water
  •      Retain existing vegetation
  •      Amend the soil
  •      Install efficient irrigation systems
  •      Put right plant in the right place
  •      Rethink the lawn
  •      Mulch

 MANGE WATER (keep water on the site)

  •      Clump grasses slow and filter water | old growth trees slow water and promote deep drainage
  •      Terracing slows runoff | Stone and Dry Creek Beds slow and direct runoff
  •      Bioswales and rain gardens filter water and allow for deep drainage
  •      Smaller water features with less surface area and splashing
  •      In design of residence plan and account for impervious cover percentages to ensure you can meet your needs and maximize landscaping area (Ex. green houses or water storage tank can count as impervious coverage and depending on house size you                               may not have room for, or if you do you cut into landscaping possibilities, thereby reducing the percentage of lot that can help in managing water.

ELIMINATE CHEMICALS

  •  Systemic insecticides kill all insects, including honey bees and butterflies. Ex – plants at box stores are often chemically treated and thus will negatively effect insects etc. once planted at your home
  • Natural Swimming Pools (very interesting and they have caught a lot more attention in Europe and it will be interesting to see if they catch stateside. In Austin, seeking out and spending a day at a swimming hole is a TX summer tradition – so they would seem to be a natural fit here) Here is a LINK to a nice piece on them from Houzz.

For Information and case studies on “low impact development” visit www.TexasLID.org

Presentation 2

Efficient Irrigation Techniques

Matt Stamm from Cougar Irrigation, LLC

When and how often do we irrigate? M.A.D. – Maximum Allowable Depletion – you want to stress your plants/landscaping some so that they are stronger and more resilient. Strain forces the growth of deeper roots and so forth.

THE VALUE OF LANDSCAPING

  • increased real estate value
  • beauty & relaxation
  • safe & high quality play and exercise areas
  • soil erosion control
  • rainwater entrapment and ground water recharge
  • shelter for wildlife
  • solar heat dissipation
  • reduction in air noise and pollution

U.S. Drought Monitor – go here

PERCENTAGE OF HOUSEHOLD WATER USAGE

(source or avg household size not provided)

  • Outdoor              67%
  • Toilet                   8.9%
  • Clothes Washer  7.23%
  • Shower               5.27%
  • Faucet(s)            5.23%
  • Leak                   4.57%
  • Bath                    0.6%
  • Dishwasher        0.47%
  • Other                  0.73%

WATER AGENCY REACTIONS

  • water bans and restrictions
  • irrigation audits (City of Austin provides these free of charge)
  • tiered water rates
  • water-efficient product rebates
  • lawn size and landscape restrictions
  • water re-use

HOW TO APPROACH EFFICIENT IRRIGATION

  1. WATER SOURCE – Tap into underutilized supplies such as underground well water, gray water, condensate and rain water
  2. DESIGN – Create landscapes as sustainable as they are beautiful
  3. SCHEDULE – Optimize the timing, quantity and frequency of water applied to the landscape with leading edge water management controls
  4. APPLY –  Distribute water to the landscape as efficiently as possible (one of the biggest mistakes is over-pressurized systems which can not only damage the system, but also causes a significant waste of water) i.e. drip systems or high efficiency nozzles

EFFICIENT MAINTENANCE/WATER MANAGEMENT (use water efficiently and affordably for the long haul)

  • Annual Maintenance
  • Monthly Maintenance
  • Bi-Weekly Testing (mainly if you have bi-weekly lawn service etc.)
  • Technology upgrades

Presentation 3

Drought Mitigation Strategies

BioDiversity

Book Rec: “Permaculture; A Practical Guide for a Sustainable Future” by Bill Mollison

IMPROVE SOIL STRUCTURE

Remineralization

Compost/Soil Tea

build biodiversity back into soil

book reference: “Terra Preta

INCREASE FUNCTIONAL RAINFALL (annual rainfall avg minus runoff)

ANALYZE WATERSHED

DIVERT WATER

FILTER WATER

ENLIVEN ENTIRE PROPERTY

(Special Thanks to Mark Epler for taking great notes in Class for me to share on the blog!)

Best,

Matt Risinger
– Risinger Homes in Austin, TX

Risinger Homes is a custom builder and whole house remodeling contractor that specializes in Architect driven and fine craftsmanship work. We utilize an in-house carpentry staff and the latest building science research to build dramatically more efficient, healthy and durable homes.
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