The Village of Waterford, Virginia
   A National Historic Landmark

photos of Waterford VA Our annual fair is over 50 years old Waterford gardening activities and natural resources What we do on July 4th Waterford's history About our town
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History of Waterford and Loudoun County
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1PLs - Personal loan from 1000 to 35000 dollars

Go to the Foundation web site Foundation events About the citizens' association About the citizens' association Join the WCA web pages for members only
Slow the flow inside
Whip the drips outside
Gardening tips

Water-Saving Tips

WaterWiser - The Water Efficiency Clearinghouse

Startling Statistics
You probably use more water each day than you realize. Here are some numbers to remember:

  • A normal faucet runs at the rate of 3 to 5 gallons a minute.
  • Unrestricted shower heads run at 5 to 10 gallons a minute.
  • A five minute shower uses 25 to 50 gallons of water.
  • A bathtub filled 1/2 full takes 50 gallons of water.
  • One toilet flushing requires 5 to 7 gallons of water.
  • Normal dishwasher loads require at least 15 gallons of water.
  • Each load of laundry normally requires about 50 gallons or more of water. -

Slow the Flow  Top of page
Here are some tips for conserving water inside your home:

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.
  • Never use your toilet as a wastebasket.
  • Use a partially filled sink to rinse your razor.
  • Take shorter showers, or, install water saving shower heads.
  • Take a shallow bath instead of a shower.
  • Chill tap water in the refrigerator for drinking.
  • Run the washing machine and the dishwasher only with full loads.
  • Sprinkle the lawn, not the pavement.
  • Water the lawn with a deep soak early in the morning.
  • Wash your car with soap and water from a bucket.

Whip the Drip  Top of page
Here are some tips for conserving water outside your home:

  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clear debris from sidewalks.
  • Set your lawn mower one notch higher. Longer grass allows less evaporation.
  • Make sure your hose has a shut-off nozzle.

Gardening Tips*  Top of page

Gardeners should consider gradually increasing their garden's drought-tolerance by choosing new plants that require less water, and strive to be more water efficient in the future. Here are a few effective measures we can all take to prevent wasting water:

  • Take shorter showers; wash only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Water plants with gray water - the rinse water from washing dishes or laundry, the run-off when you take a shower, the bath water, and any other possible source.
  • Water gardens early in the morning to minimize evaporation losses. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems.
  • Use rain barrels to collect water for your garden. Hundreds of gallons of water can be collected during one day of rain. (A search on the Internet yields dozens of contacts to buy or build a rain barrel.)
  • When watering garden beds, water more deeply but less often. This saves water two ways: you actually apply less water, and you train the plants to become deep rooted, thereby increasing their water-absorbing efficiency.
  • When planting large shrubs and trees, construct a shallow basin around the base of the plant. Use the soil to create a berm to capture water from the hose or normal rainfall. This concentrates water to the root system.
  • Maintain a two-inch thick layer of mulch around plants. The mulch reduces water evaporation from the soil and keeps the soil around the roots cool.

Mulching*  Top of page

Mulching is a beneficial gardening practice, that can not only improve the aesthetics of the garden, but can also help retain soil moisture during dry spells, moderate soil temperature changes, increase organic matter content in soil over time, and reduce weed growth. Mulching has many benefits, and it has never been more popular with gardeners, but as with most things in life, mulching is best done in moderation. Over-mulching carries with it several short and long term consequences that should be noted. First of all, applying any more than a 2-3 inch layer of mulch is a waste of money, time, and materials. A proper amount of mulch can facilitate the main function of the roots of a plant, the intake of soil moisture and nutrients, and the uptake of oxygen from the pore spaces in soil. In general anything over 4 or 5 inches of mulch or continued annual applications of mulch without regard for compaction or depth of the previous years mulch layer can have very negative effects. Excessive amounts of soil moisture can build up and limit the pore spaces in the soil layer, causing diminished root growth and dieback of existing roots. This in turn will cause weak and diminished plant growth and dieback leading to the ultimate death of the plant. The problem may not become evident to the casual observer for several years at which point the damage done may be so extensive as to be irreversible.

Over-mulching has become a widespread problem in the modern landscape, particularly on the grounds of town house developments, office parks, and shopping centers. A dark, weed-free layer of mulch around every tree, shrub and planting bed has become the standard expected by any self respecting homeowners association. The problem is that the fastest and easiest way of achieving this look is to simply apply layer after layer of mulch into the planting areas, sometimes several times a year. The result is the unmistakable "mountain" or "volcano" of mulch surrounding every tree and shrub which has become an all too common sight in suburbia. If piled deeply enough around the base of the trunk, it will not only damage the roots of your trees and shrubs but can also cause a great deal of damage to the bark of the tree. The mulch can inhibit the free exchange of gasses (mainly oxygen and carbon dioxide) between the atmosphere and the inner layers of bark, causing this inner layer to die. If allowed to continue, this will cut off the flow of water, nutrients and energy between the roots and the foliage of the plant. The moist, oxygen poor layer of mulch also provides the perfect situation for fungal and bacterial disease to attack the inner layers of bark at the base of the plant, causing rot and cankers to girdle the stem or trunk eventually bringing about the death of the plant. A thick mulch layer also creates the ideal winter hideout for rodents that would be more than happy to feast on the nutrient rich inner layer of bark. All of these situations can be easily avoided by keeping the mulch ring several inches away from the trunks of young trees and up to a foot away from the trunks of mature trees. The tree or shrub would benefit greatly if that same amount of mulch that had been piled up against its trunk was spread in an even 2-3 inch layer out to the plant's dripline (the outer edge of the canopy). But if that fresh dark layer of mulch is your highest priority, simply rake and turn over the existing mulch layer to improve its appearance, or, if that isn't sufficient, try adding just a one-inch layer of fresh mulch to bring back that dark rich color.

The decision on which type of mulch is used is usually based on aesthetics and your personal preference for color and texture. Pine bark nuggets and other coarse mulches are less likely to compact and allow greater oxygen flow, so can be applied on the thick side (but never more than 4") if necessary. You should be particularly careful when applying fine or double shredded mulches, which are more likely to settle and cut off airflow. If you have poorly-drained heavy clay soils, you will also want to pay particular attention to mulch depth, usually not more than 2 inches, so as not to impact oxygen levels in the soil any more than necessary. You may want to consider changing the type of mulch you use when you are ready to reapply, since over the long run pine bark mulches have a tendency to acidify the soil while hardwood bark mulches tend to sweeten or make your garden soil more alkaline as they decompose. Be careful when using a mulch of organic materials that have not been composted adequately. This mulch draws a good deal of the available nitrogen out of the soil and away from your plants as it continues to decompose.

* From Benke's Nursery web site,


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