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  • Reducing Water Use
    Region-wide sprinkling regulations are in effect from May 15 to October 15, regardless of weather conditions. But don't despair. Your lawn and garden can look great, even when water restrictions are in place. Choosing local, drought-resistant plants, adapting your watering routine, and utilizing water conservation tools are just some of the ways you can reduce your water consumption during peak periods and still enjoy a beautiful, sustainable garden.

    Reducing outdoor watering needs is an important part of the Grow Green approach. Here are some solutions to get you started:

    • Let your lawn go brown – brown is the new green when it comes to summertime lawns. Your grass needs as little as 2 cm of water every week to stay green, so letting it take a rest is one of the easiest ways to reduce water use. An hour of rain or sprinkling per week is all you need for a healthy lawn.

    • Get a spring-loaded nozzle for watering – an easy way to control your water usage. A nozzle or watering can are both better solutions than just letting water run straight from the hose when it's not being applied to garden areas.

    • Break up the surface of soil before watering – hardened soil won’t let the water through.

    • Mulch key shrubs and gardens – plants protected by mulch require less frequent watering. Adding a layer of material like wood or bark chips, leaves, grass clippings, or compost, can preserve moisture by reducing soil temperature, sheltering the ground from drying winds, and slowing the rate of evaporation from the soil.

    • Pull containers into the shade – on hot summer days, pull containers or planters into the shade to avoid the afternoon sun.

    • Use a rain barrel – rain barrels connected to your roof downspouts harvest water that would otherwise end up in storm sewers. Combine rain barrels with a drip irrigation system and you can reduce your water requirements, spend less time watering, and keep plants healthy at the same time. (Some Metro Vancouver municipalities offer special deals on rain barrel purchases to encourage rainwater collection, so be sure to check with your City Hall to see what's on offer.)

    • Use grey water (re-use water from sinks and tubs) – you can collect grey water from the kitchen, laundry, shower, and/or bath for re-use in your garden. A super-simple way? Keep a bucket handy to collect the 'waiting-to-warm-up' water from the hot water tap that might otherwise go down the drain.


    Additional Resources

    Tips to Conserve Water at Home
    For Metro Vancouver's Waterwise tips and how-to videos.

    Lawn Sprinkling Regulations
    Learn about region-wide sprinkling regulations, which are an effective way to help us use our drinking water wisely.

    Rainfall Calculator
    Estimate how much water you can collect with a rain barrel by entering the dimensions of your roof.

    More Ideas for Less Lawn
    Design ideas and landscaping suggestions to help you swap out thirsty lawn space for usable outdoor living space and drought-resistant landscaping.

  • Tackling Invasive Species
    Invasive species can have economic, human health, and environmental impacts. It can be expensive for local governments to remove and control fast-spreading invasive species. Some, like giant hogweed with its toxic sap, can injure people and pets, and local plants can be crowded out by fast-growing invasives that compete for space in the eco-system. Many people may not even realize they have invasive plants in their yard, such as traditional favourites like periwinkle or English Ivy.

    You can help win the fight against invasive species through careful plant choices and removal of existing invasives in your yard. Visit the links to learn which plants are considered invasive in our region, how to identify them, and alternatives to consider for your garden. To control the spread of non-native plant species, make sure you dispose of them in your garbage bin rather than putting them in the compost.

    Additional Resources

    Invasive Species Council of British Columbia
    This organization is committed to reducing the impact of invasive species in our province. Fact sheets, plant identification guides and other useful resources can be found on their website.

    Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver
    One of the seventeen regional invasive species committees in the province, the ISCMV offers education and outreach resources on their website, information on workshops and events, and prevention tips such as the Knot on My Property guide to tackling the fast-growing invasive knotweed plant.

    PlantWise
    Explore which plants are considered invasive in our region and understand the harm they can bring to our ecosystems and economies.

  • Creating Habitat for Birds and Pollinators
    Creating a Grow Green Garden in your yard is good for animal species such as birds, pollinators, and small mammals. In turn, those species can act as natural pest control, getting rid of other creatures that can damage your lawn and garden. In addition, when you landscape with native plants you are helping create habitat corridors – giving these creatures areas that provide food and nesting habitat. Here are some tips to help you keep wildlife in mind when you design your garden:

    • To support bird life in your garden, choose flowers that bring seeds, nuts and fleshy fruit.

    • Choose a diverse array of early blooming plants, berries, fall foliage and other plantings that offer year-round support to local species.

    • Plants with wide open flowers provide easy access to nectar and pollen. A diverse community of plants will provide continuous resources from early spring to fall. Hard working pollinators in Metro Vancouver include bumble bees, sweat bees, mining bees, hairy-belly bees, and honey bees, as well as flies, wasps, butterflies, beetles and birds.

    • Some of our regional pollinators' favourite plants include: Oregon grape, Red Osier dogwood, snowberry, salal, and thimbleberry. Some garden plants to consider: Ceanothus, campanula, pieris, rhododendron, calendula, and hebe.

    • If you have the space, grow plants in groups of three to five to help attract pollinators. A combination of evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, grasses, vines and perennials/flowers are best for pollinating animals like bees, butterflies, beetles, flies and hummingbirds.

    • Provide a shallow water dish with perching stones in your yard for birds.

    • Leave an undisturbed area of plants and fallen leaves in your garden and open areas of soil for nesting, mud-puddling, sheltering, and overwintering birds.

    • Avoid pesticides – Your outdoor spaces can be healthy and vibrant without the use of pesticides, which are linked to negative health and environmental impacts.


    • Additional Resources

      Canadian Wildlife Federation
      The CWF website offers a number of resources in their Gardening 101 section – to help you create a beautiful garden that also meets the needs of wildlife.

      Wild and Managed Pollinators: Current Status and Strategies to Increase Diversity
      This report describes the benefits pollinators provide to humans and wildlife, evaluates the current state of pollinator populations and main drivers behind pollinator decline, compares contributions of and interactions among managed (honey bees) and wild pollinators, and provides strategies to mitigate the negative impacts threatening pollinator populations.

  • Healthy Soil and Compost Tips
    Without healthy soil, your garden can’t thrive. But with the right mix of minerals, nutrients, organic matter, and microscopic fauna, you’ll have lush, productive plants and fewer problems with pests and disease. Creating healthy soil is a balancing act - combining good drainage with moisture retention, ensuring the pH level is neutral rather than acidic or alkaline, and making sure there’s enough nutrients and organic matter. Compost is the key to improving the soil in your green garden. It’s also a great way to re-purpose materials like lawn clippings, dead leaves, and food waste. If you are pressed for space, consider a worm composter. It’s a compact and efficient way to compost in your garage, basement, or apartment balcony.

    Additional Resources

    Composting in the Garden

    Here's the Dirt: Backyard Composting

    Worm Composting