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Soapbox: City offers tips for waterwise gardening

Jennifer Joe serves as the city of Tigard's environmental program coordinator.

From the Butterfly Garden at Cook Park to the Rhododendron Garden at Summerlake Park, one of the things that makes Tigard such a great place to live is our beautiful lawns and gardens. Local residents also have a strong commitment to preserving our community’s natural resources.

The city of Tigard provides water to approximately 58,000 residents in the Tigard Water Service Area. We frequently hear from Tigard gardeners who are looking for new and better ways to save water while keeping their gardens green and healthy in the dry summer months. It’s an important question — and one we’re always happy to answer — since average water use in Tigard increases dramatically in the summer. In fact, from June through September, we see water use spike from a winter average of 3.8 million gallons per day to a summer average of 7.3 million gallons per day.

Good news: the Regional Water Providers Consortium, a group of 20-plus local water providers, including the city of Tigard plus the regional government Metro, has some great, free resources to help local residents save water, time and energy in the garden.

The first step is knowing how much water your garden actually needs. The consortium makes that easy by posting a “Weekly Watering Number” (conserveh2o.org) that tells you exactly how many inches of water your lawn or garden needs for the week, based on the weather in your zip code. You can even sign up to receive the watering number by email each week.

Another step to reduce outdoor water use is selecting low water and native plants, and using smart watering techniques. The consortium offers plant guides, information about lawn alternatives and how-to videos on waterwise irrigation on the Outdoor section of the website.

Here are the Regional Water Providers Consortium’s “Top Five” waterwise tips for Tigard gardeners:

• Water lawns and gardens early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) or later in the evening (after 6 p.m.) when temperatures are cooler and evaporation is minimized.

• Adjust your sprinklers so they are watering your lawn and garden, and not the street.

• Water in several short sessions rather than one long session to allow for better absorption and to prevent run-off.

• Adjust your mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so your lawn requires less water.

• Group plants with similar watering needs together, as different plants require different amounts of water.

Finally, the Regional Water Providers Consortium will offer free outdoor watering gauge kits from July 1 to Aug. 10. The kits include a water gauge and timer to help you measure your sprinkler’s water use and ensure you’re giving your lawn and garden the right amount of water. Kits are available while supplies last — one per customer — to metro-area residents who receive water service from one of the consortium members.

To receive a free kit, call 503-823-7528 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Please include your mailing address, water provider name and how you heard about the offer.

Happy gardening!

Get on your soapbox

The Times offers a soapbox to stand on every week in our Opinion section. The soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer. Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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Humidity: 34%

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  • 20 Aug 2014

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