This month, Handy Girl keeps her eyes—and her handy self—outside, answering your questions about messy garages, out-of-control water bills, and more.
Ready to organize your garage? Need help with pesky yard vermin? Handy Girl is here to help.
DEAR HANDY GIRL,
We had an almost unbearable heat wave last year—resulting in an almost unbearable water bill from watering. What can I do to trim it?
I feel your pain, really, but I’m here to say it’s not as hard as you think to cut your outdoor water use in measurable ways and still have a beautiful yard. Some ideas are old-school and some involve a tool or two. Here’s how:
1 WATCH THE SUN. If you’re watering when the sun is high, you’re losing moisture to evaporation. Instead, water before 6 a.m. or after the sun sets. Timers that hook directly to an outdoor faucet are helpful for this.
2 GET A RAIN GAUGE. My parents always had one—a basic plastic type—and my mom dutifully recorded every drop of rain. I never understood the habit until a garden editor friend told me that an inch a week is all you need to keep most plants in good health. Set yours up away from the house—say, in a garden bed—and opt for one with a little whimsy (if that’s your thing) to add some flair.
3 KNOW THAT NOT ALL PLANTS ARE CREATED EQUAL. By that I mean some are super fussy about water and placement and they take a lot of effort. Are they worth it? Maybe not, when you add up the time and money you’re investing.
4 UPDATE YOUR GEAR. A leaky hose or sprinkler head can waste a whole lot of water—up to 6,300 gallons a month. Be a stickler if you see any pooling water and fix the problem. While you’re at it, invest in soil moisture sensors and WaterSenselabeled products: They use 20 percent less water, and you can even contact a WaterSense-certified professional to help with your needs. Or switch to a drip irrigation system—a perfect DIY project that delivers micro amounts of moisture to plants to help minimize wasting water.