Calgary currently has a Stage 1 Outdoor Water Ban in effect, which applies to all homes and businesses in the city. The reason is due to the exceptionally low levels of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, which have been watched very carefully throughout the summer. A little bit of moisture this week has helped, but since a drought advisory was issued in late July there has been very little precipitation and warmer-than-average temperatures, leading City of Calgary staff to take precautionary measures to protect the Glenmore Reservoir. These actions will ensure that water supplies remain healthy through the winter.
As of now and into the foreseeable future, residences and businesses may only use their sprinkler, soaker hose or underground irrigation system one day per week according a specific schedule, and for a maximum of two hours at a time. The schedule is set by the last digit of your address. Properties with even-number addresses (those that end in 0,2,4,6, or 8) can water either Wednesday or Saturday during the following times:
- 4 a.m. – 7 a.m.; or
- 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.; or
- 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Odd-number addresses (those that end in 1,3,5,7, or 9) can water on either Thursday or Sunday during the times as noted above.
Additional watering is allowed in some circumstances
Don’t worry, the City of Calgary doesn’t want your perennials and annuals to die. You may water your gardens, trees and shrubs with a watering can, a hose with shut-off spray, a watering wand that automatically shuts off when not in use, and/or a drip irrigation system.
You may also water:
- New sod that has been laid within the last 21 days
- Lawn seed that was planted in the last 45 days
Authorities are also allowing for outdoor pools, hot tubs, or wading pools to be filled, however suggest keeping them covered in order to prevent evaporation.
Water use that should be avoided
To reduce the use of water, please do not:
- Wash your vehicle at home
- Apply any pesticide or fertilizer that requires the use of water
- Test your irrigation system
- Spray your driveway or pathways off to clean them
- Wash your windows
- Fill birdbaths or decorative water features, such as fountains
- Pressure wash the outside of your home
Calgarians should be aware that failing to follow the restriction may result in a fine. A Stage 1 violation will ding you for $400, a Stage 2 violation costs $600, a Stage 3 violation will empty your pockets of $1,500, and a Stage 4 violation earns a whopping $3,000 violation ticket.
This handy tip sheet produced by the City of Calgary answers a number of frequently asked questions about the water restrictions.
Other ways to reduce water use
When advising our landscape design clients on their plant selection, we always recommend choosing drought-tolerant plants. Local species are always a good choice, and we love that Calgary’s garden centres are introducing a few new and exciting varieties every year. Trees such as the lodgepole pine, white spruce, and aspen poplar are attractive and hardy. And local raspberry, blueberry, and cranberry bushes provide fresh fruit for munching on and baking your favourite treats.
Additional drought-tolerant options to consider include:
- Ornamental grasses
- Russian sage
Mulch is very effective for water conservation, among its many other benefits. Mulch helps break up water droplets from rain or sprinklers to allow moisture to seep more slowly and effectively into your soil, and also prevents wasteful runoff. The shade mulch provides to your soil allows moisture to stick around for longer, as well, meaning you do not have to water as much.
Mulch is a great temperature stabilizer by being a direct layer of insulation for your plants. In the winter, mulch helps to protect roots from freezing temperatures and the often-cold days we see in the spring. Mulch continues to stabilize soil temperature when the days are warming but the nights are still chilly. In the summer, mulch stops your soil from getting too hot and moisture evaporating too quickly.
In addition to mulch, amending your soil can improve its water-holding capacity. Incorporating organic matter such as compost into your garden beds enhances the soil’s ability to retain moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering.
Install an irrigation system
To save on water for the long run, and also keep your property looking great, installing underground irrigation is the very best long-term solution. Putting in underground sprinklers is one of our favourite jobs here at Mirage Landscaping, as we know how much our clients end up enjoying their systems and the benefits they provide to both your landscaping’s needs and your ultimate financial bottom line.
We carefully zone out our underground irrigation systems according to what you have planted and where. Taller sprinklers are able to deliver water over shrubs and perennials to ensure garden beds are fully hydrated all the way through. Shorter sprinklers are better for lawn areas, as they spray directly over your grass to quickly send more water where it needs to go. Our sprinkler systems are installed with sophisticated, programmable control units that can be set to go off at specific times so you don’t even need to think about watering. Another available money-saving feature of automated sprinklers are rain sensors that will turn off your system if enough natural moisture has fallen.
Use a rain barrel
Rain barrels are a great way to start using less treated water. Purchase a rain barrel to capture rainwater, which can then be used in your garden. Plus, plants love rainwater for its high ozone content.
Count on Mirage Landscaping for all your property maintenance needs
Mirage Landscaping is pleased to provide custom quotes for all property maintenance projects, including landscape construction, landscape design, landscape maintenance, and snow removal. Use our online form, enter your information and project details, and one of our team members will be in touch to start a no-pressure conversation. Check out our portfolio to get your creative juices flowing.