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We are now in the worst drought in more than four decades. Mature oak trees are cracking and falling over, and reservoirs are drying up. Water agencies throughout Sonoma County have, or are considering water rationing. It’s time to rethink how we use water, especially in outdoor uses.

At least half of water used at the average home is used outdoors. That’s where you can save the most water. Some simple things you can do include converting lawn to perennial drought-tolerant shrubs and grasses. Using native plants supports our beautiful birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

We’ve shared with you our fire-wise resilient landscape concepts in a blog post written by Ellie Insley (Sonoma Ecology Center, Board Vice President) that are appropriate for water-saving methods in your garden. For more ideas and to see them in action visit our Sonoma Garden Park. There you can take the LID (low impact design) tour, which is a self-guided walking tour through the garden. 

Markers identify things such as the gray water system that uses water from a sink, for example, to water outdoor plants. You’ll also see drought-tolerant native plants that require less water to survive than non-native plants. 

For big thinkers like Steven Lee, our Senior Scientist and Research Program Manager, rainwater harvesting is a great option for collecting and storing rainwater to use later in irrigation. Steven’s 60,000 gallon system may be bigger than what you need, but it can be scaled to the size of your own property. The Sonoma Index-Tribune wrote a great story about Steven’s catchment system.