Wisely Using Water
If all the grocery store madness we’ve seen lately is any indication – water is a very valuable resource! We need water to drink, cook, wash our hands, clean off surfaces, water our plants and so much more. However, water is not an infinite resource, and we should all be thinking of ways we can avoid wasting it.
If you are into gardening, or you have many houseplants that you water daily, consider investing in a rain barrel to collect water whenever it rains. At Zoo Atlanta, we have multiple rain barrels along with four large cisterns that our incredible Horticulture Team uses to care for the plants around the Zoo. One 2,500-gallon galvanized tank is behind the scenes at the Horticulture Team’s greenhouse, another 2,500-gallon tank is next to the barn at Outback Station and two 15,000-gallon tanks are buried by Scaly Slimy Spectacular.
The rain barrels all supply water for the Horticulture Team’s spray rig, which they can tow around the Zoo to water plants. The greenhouse cistern is used for watering plants in the greenhouse, and two buried tanks at Scaly Slimy Spectacular supply water to outdoor faucets as well as the irrigation system to water landscape and interior plants around the building. The water from the tank at Outback Station is primarily used by the Ambassador Animals Team for cleaning, but the Horticulture Team occasionally uses the water for watering plants as well.
One of the most efficient ways to water plants is through a drip irrigation system. At the Zoo, many plants are watered on a timer, and the drip irrigation occurs early in the morning to limit evaporation (the worst time to water plants is mid-day because most of the water will evaporate in the heat). A drip irrigation system waters plants directly at the root and uses much less water than pop-up sprinkler systems. If you have a large garden that needs a lot of water, consider switching to a drip irrigation system to significantly save on your water bill! Or just water in the early morning or at night when it’s not so hot.
One last tip to save water is to plant native and drought-tolerant plants, which do not need to be watered as often. Native plants are adapted to our climate, soil conditions and temperatures and drought-tolerant plants can of course handle dry conditions. According to our Horticulture Team, some good options are native azaleas, coneflower and sweetshrub.
An extra bonus of planting native flowering plants is that you will also benefit native pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds which will then help your garden thrive even further!