The Best Drought-Resistant Plants to Leave Your Landscaping Looking Great!

The Best Drought-Resistant Plants to Leave Your Landscaping Looking Great!

Whether you live in an area that can frequently experience droughts, like California, or you’re trying to conserve water by not giving your plants a good soak so much, it’s never a bad idea to choose foliage that doesn’t require a lot of water to grow and thrive.

The best part?

You don’t need to sacrifice plants that look great and add a lot of personality to your yard in order to find the best ones that don’t need excessive amounts of water.

Below, you’ll find some of the best drought-resistant plants that will keep your landscaping looking pristine and can make a difference in how much water you’re wasting.

Agave

You’ve probably heard about the agave plant already, as it’s become a popular natural sweetening solution. But, it’s also a great drought-resistant plant. Agave plants store water for a very long time, and their roots can dig deep beneath the surface of the soil to soak up more groundwater. They aren’t only drought-resistant, but they’re incredibly easy to take care of. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant, look no further!

Blanket Flower

The Blanket Flower, also known as Gaillardia, can add beautiful color to your yard without having to water it daily. These flowers bloom in sunny spots, and only need occasional watering in order to thrive. The best part? They bloom in both summer and fall and can withstand extremely hot and cool temperatures. If you’re new to gardening and want your yard to have a pop of color, these are great ‘starter flowers’ that everyone will enjoy.

Verbena

Ground cover that doesn’t take a lot of water and is still vibrant and colorful? It’s possible in the form of Verbena. Verbena is available in a variety of different colors and grows well in hot temperatures with little water. It’s a perfect plant for warmer states like California. It can cover a lot of space efficiently, so you can plant a lot of Verbena and use less water, filling in spots with accent plants as you go!

Sage

Growing sage in your garden or anywhere on your property has two benefits. First, it’s a drought-resistant herb that looks clean and uniform. Second, it’s popular in hundreds of different recipes! When you grow sage, you’ll love walking by and getting a whiff of its wonderful aroma. Sage should be grown in warm weather when the risk of frost is low. It doesn’t take a lot of water to thrive. In fact, it can easily fall victim to over-watering, so it’s perfect for areas that don’t get much rain.

There are many more plants and flowers that grow beautifully, even in warm climates that experience frequent droughts. You don’t have to live in one of those climates to enjoy the benefits that come with these plants.

Don’t be afraid to try one of these, or any other low-water plants in your yard this year. You’ll love the way they look, and you’ll save on watering costs throughout the season.

Saving Energy While Running Your A/C This Summer?

Saving Energy While Running Your A/C This Summer?

It’s Possible with These Simple Tips!

Most of us don’t usually connect running our air conditioners with saving energy and money. We’re just trying to beat the heat and stay comfortable during these hot summer months.

But, did you know there are certain things you can do when running your A/C that can actually help to save energy? As a result, you can even lower your utility bills. It’s a win for the environment, and for your wallet!

The best part?

You don’t have to give up on that comforting, cooling sensation!

Put these tips into practice on the hottest days of the season, and you’ll be doing your part to conserve energy all summer long.

Keep it Consistent

Once you turn your air conditioning unit on for the season, leave it on. Decide on a cool temperature you can live with, and have the unit kick on when your home goes above that temperature. Constantly turning the A/C on and off when the temperature outside rises and falls uses more energy.

Additionally, adjusting the temperature inside uses extra energy, too! It will take longer to get your whole house to that ‘new’ desired temperature. So, it’s best to decide on something comfortable and leave it there.

Go Digital

Many homes still use older thermostats. Unfortunately, these are inefficient and don’t always give you accurate readings. By switching over to a digital thermostat, you can be sure your A/C unit will give you the exact desired temperature.

Many digital thermostats are also programmable. You can save energy by having ‘night’ and ‘day’ settings. This will give your unit a break at night when the temperatures are naturally cooler. Switching to a digital thermometer is a one-time investment, but it can save you money on your utility bills in the long run.

Clean the Unit

Keeping your A/C unit clean and free from debris will help it to run more efficiently. You can do this yourself each year simply by brushing or vacuuming away any debris around it. Or, you can hire an HVAC technician to come to your home. They’ll do a more thorough inspection, clean the unit, and make sure it’s running smoothly. This will help to ensure even cooling throughout the summer so you’re not wasting energy.

Close Your Blinds

While this isn’t a tip that can be used on the A/C unit itself, it can certainly help you in getting the most out of the cool air being pumped out. On hot days, keep the blinds or curtains in your house closed. This will keep the sun from heating up your house, so your air doesn’t have to run constantly.

Keeping your blinds closed will also stop the cold air from seeping out, so that precious energy (and your hard-earned money!) isn’t simply floating out the window.

It’s time to change the way we see air conditioning units. They don’t have to be energy-guzzling machines, and you don’t have to feel guilty about using one – if you use it the right way!

You can still stay cool this summer and make a few positive changes for the environment. The best part? Most of these tips you can start putting into place right away!

Preventing Wildfires, How Can You Help?

Preventing Wildfires, How Can You Help?

In 2017, California saw more destructive wildfires than ever before. The fire damage spread over one million acres and caused $13 billion dollars in damages.

Wildfires start for a variety of different reasons.

Sometimes, nature plays a part – something as simple as the heat from the sun can cause a dry patch of land to ignite. Other times, unfortunately, it’s people that start these fires.

Because wildfires can cause so much devastation so quickly, it’s essential that we all do our part in helping to prevent them. You might be thinking of the old “Smokey the Bear” cartoons about preventing forest fires but doing what you can to keep wildfires at bay isn’t child’s play. Let’s take a look at a few useful tips you can use to prevent wildfires in your area.

Don’t Leave a Fire Alone

Whether you’re at a campsite or having a bonfire in your backyard, never walk away and leave a fire unattended. Even if it looks like it’s dying out, wildfires have started from nothing but embers before. Extinguish the fire completely with water and stir around the ashes. You want them to be completely cold with no traces of embers before you walk away from it.

Don’t Discard Flammables

Tossing anything out your car window or throwing your trash on the ground is never a good idea. But, it can be especially damaging if it’s something that could ignite a fire. Things like cigarettes, matches, lighters, or anything that could cause a spark should never be tossed on the ground. Unfortunately, this is a big problem at campsites, which can often be where fires get started. If you have something like matches or a cigarette, make sure it is completely extinguished and cold before throwing it away in a proper waste bin.

Don’t Burn on a Windy Day

If you’re burning yard waste, wait to do it on a calm day. It doesn’t take much wind to pick up something like leaves and spread the embers around. If those embers hit a patch of dry land, a wildfire could start in mere minutes. You should never burn yard waste on the ground. Instead, use a 50-gallon drum or fire pit to keep it contained.

Report Out of Control Fires

If you see a fire that has been left unattended, or one that looks like it’s burning out of control, contact 911 immediately. Often, wildfires can grow and spread to be huge undertakings before authorities even have the chance to start working on them. The sooner authorities can start working to extinguish a fire, the less damage is likely to occur.

It doesn’t take much to do your part for wildfire prevention. Because human error is so often the cause of this major problem, we’re the ones that can prevent most fires, too!

Keep these tips in mind, especially if you’re in a state prone to wildfires. If everyone started practicing these fire safety methods in their everyday life, imagine how fewer wildfires we’d see each year.

 

Could Craft Breweries Help Lead the Way in Water Conservation?

Could Craft Breweries Help Lead the Way in Water Conservation?

Could having a glass of your favorite local brew actually have a positive impact on the environment? Before you head off to happy hour, let’s dive a little deeper into this new revelation.

It seems like craft breweries are popping up in droves all over the country. In fact, there are over 5,000 independently-run breweries in the U.S. today.

They’re great for small town business, they’re fun places to meet and spend time with friends and family, and most of them offer exceptionally-unique drinks and food. So, what does all that have to do with water conservation?

The Water Burden of Beer

It takes a lot of water to brew beer. That’s obvious. With water becoming more of a scarce resource, it isn’t surprising that many craft breweries have tried to think of ways to reduce their water footprint. By using less water in some areas, they can continue to have enough water to brew their beer. It’s an interesting way of recycling that brings water conservation to an entirely new level.

For example, the brewing process itself is changing for many craft breweries. The ratio of water-to-beer for brewing used to be 6-1. Many breweries are trying to get that number down as low as possible. Some have even managed to get it down to a 3-1 ratio. This process alone helps to prevent up to 50% of the water that wasn’t needed for brewing!

Recycling water in different ways has also become a popular theme among independent breweries. This is currently being done in many creative ways, from large-scale operations to small brewpubs you may have never heard of.

Some larger breweries are taking the leftover water waste from their brewing process and finding ways to re-use it elsewhere in the brewery. This is where science comes into play. Recycled water from spent grain has been used for certain types of fuel. As you might expect, a brewery uses a lot of energy. Being able to cut down on those costs by using spent grain water as fuel helps the planet in two different ways.

Brewers for Clean Water

On top of reducing the amount of water they use and finding unique ways to recycle it, brewers are taking an active role in clean water production, too. There is actually an organization called Brewers for Clean Water, designed to help protect the Clean Water Act.

It’s interesting to think that of all the careers and businesses in this country, microbreweries are one of the most influential and opinionated groups when it comes to water conservation. These brewers know that good beer takes good water – and, a lot of it.

By changing their practices and fighting for clean water, breweries are really making a difference in how businesses (especially in the food/drink industry) can make changes to conserve water.

If more businesses followed the trail of the brewing community, we may not have such an intense water crisis in the United States, or all over the world.

Super Simple Summer Water Saving Projects for Kids

Super Simple Summer Water Saving Projects for Kids

The official start of summer is just around the corner. All over the country, most kids are finally out of school, and ready to start their vacation. Summer is a great time for kids to learn new things that they might not otherwise learn in a classroom. Plus, keeping your kids ‘entertained’ with different projects throughout the season can make it more exciting for them. You won’t hear the dreaded boredom blues by the end of June!

Luckily, there are many different projects your kids can do throughout the summer that will not only be fun for them, but that can help conserve water, too. Check out these three simple solutions to show your kids how easy water conservation can be this summer.

  1. Give Them a Green Thumb

Summer is a great time for gardening and taking care of plants. Why not let your kids take over the watering duties for the summer? It’s an opportunity to explain to them how plants really work, and the process they go through in order to grow. At the same time, you can explain that using too much water is wasteful. You can even come up with ideas together on how you can waste less water while watering your plants.

They’ll love to have a job to do each day, and it will become a fun ‘challenge’ for them to figure out how to save as much water as possible while giving the flowers a soak.

  1. Bingo

Kids love games and challenges. So, turn water conservation into both for them! Create a ‘bingo board’ with different water-saving ideas all over it. This could include things like:

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth
  • Take a five-minute shower
  • Run the dishwasher once it’s completely full
  • Find a way to cool off without using the sprinkler
  • Take a shower instead of a bath

You can make up as many ideas as you’d like, and even personalize them for your family. Once your child gets a ‘bingo,’ you can reward them with something simple! If you have more than one child, try to turn it into a race to see who can fill up their bingo board the fastest.

  1. Be Water-Wise with Your Sprinkler

If you decide to use a sprinkler or irrigation system to water your flowers or your lawn, get double the use from it! Use those times to let your kids (or even yourself) run through the sprinkler to cool off, too. This can prevent you from turning it on later just for the kids and wasting more water.

Better yet? Make memories that will last a lifetime by using nature’s sprinkler; the rain. Summer rain is usually warm and refreshing on an otherwise-humid day. If there’s no threat of lightning, take the kids outside and have a rain dance! Everyone will cool off, and it will be something they’ll never forget!

It’s not hard for kids to learn about water conservation and even take part in it over the summer. They can use the skills they learn over the summer to continue saving water into the school year and beyond. If you make these activities fun and exciting, they’ll even be likely to share them with their friends and keep the cycle going strong!

5 Ways to Prepare for Hurricane Season

5 Ways to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is officially upon us. Depending on where you live in the country, this time of year can be somewhat uneasy. There can be many hurricanes each year, and while not all of them always affect the United States, they can cause devastation when they do. It’s important to be as prepared as possible if you live in the potential line of a hurricane.

Thankfully, having a plan ahead of time and always be ‘ready to go’ if the path of a hurricane looks as though it’s coming your way is always the best way solution. These massive storm systems are not to be ignored, so use these suggestions in your emergency readiness plan to stay ahead of the game.

1. Make Evacuation Plans
If you live in an area that has seen hurricane activity in the past, it’s important to have an evacuation plan. Your community may have evacuation plans already in place, and those should always be followed. But, having something specific for you and your family is equally-important. Your plans should include a specific route, and options you can use to shelter in place if necessary.

2. Prepare Your Home
A few days before a hurricane is expected to hit, do what you can to avoid things like water damage to your home. Make sure your gutters are completely cleared out. Invest in check valves for your plumbing to help in preventing backups. Many hurricanes come with heavy rain or flash flooding. Your sewer system may be working overtime to keep your home dry. Do what you can ahead of time to help it out!

3. Stay Connected
When a hurricane is less than 24 hours from hitting, do what you can to stay as connected to the outside world as possible. Keep checking for updates on the TV every 30 minutes or so. This will help you know what to expect and when to expect it. Now is also the time to charge your phone to make sure you don’t lose battery power when you might need it most. You may even want to charge a backup battery just in case you lose power during the storm itself. You may need to call for help or call family members to let them know you’re okay.

4. Open the Fridge
This is a quick tip not everyone thinks about, but it’s a good way to make your food last longer if you have to be stuck at home for awhile. Several hours before the hurricane is expected to hit, turn your fridge to its coldest setting. Try to avoid opening the door during this time. If you lose power, your food will stay colder longer and won’t go bad as quickly. If you’re stuck in your home with no power, you may be able to live off the food in your fridge for a longer period of time because of this simple technique.

5. Have the Right Supplies
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare yourself for a hurricane is to have the right supplies on hand. Supplies that are important to you could look different for everyone. But, the basics should include a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, and a battery-powered radio. It’s also a good idea to have some kind of whistle, should you need to call for help loudly. Think about what could help you in a dangerous situation, and don’t be afraid to add it to your supply kit!

Dealing with a hurricane is never an easy ordeal. Even by being well-prepared, devastation can still occur. But, you can give yourself, your family, and your home more of a fighting chance by being as prepared as possible ahead of time, right up until the storm hits.