HELENA — With water conservation efforts going into place in Helena to open July, there are many tactics that the city is asking people to employ to help conserve water this summer.
One term being talked about is xeriscaping, a landscape methodology that takes a standard lawn and removes a majority of the grass and replaces it with plants that take less water.
"'Xeri' means dry. And unfortunately, people think it's called zero-scaping. So what they think it is, is just rock everywhere. Well, that's a fallacy," said Michael Hiel, owner of Gardenwerks plant nursery in Helena. "Xeriscaping is just a different way of landscaping and using water conservation methods, and you can still have a lovely green landscape, and use a lot less water."
Xeriscaping is common in dry, desert-like climates and typically showcases native plants and grasses that are already accustomed to the climate, therefore using less water.
"The most practical thing for a lot of homeowners to put in our native grasses. So, we have a lot of varieties of native grasses that stay either you know, three or four feet tall, down to six inches," said Hiel. "You can have a variety of sizes, texture colors, with a lot of different native grasses that we have."
Water conservation efforts are being required by the city of Helena after "the City saw record water consumption on multiple days. Helena’s Ten Mile and Missouri River water treatment plants were treating approximately 16 million gallons per day, which is 6 million gallons more per day than normal for the time of year."
Since the water restrictions went into place, however, water usage has not fluctuated much with the lowest amount of water treated between the two sites at 14.6 million gallons on July 4 and the highest at 16.1 million gallons on July 1 and 2.
While Xeriscaping is a great way to help conserve water, it does cost time and money to create it, and for those who don't want to do that, or just like the look of their lawn taking a few things into account can help limit water usage like watering during the cooler parts of the day.
"One of the easiest things to do is raise your morning height. You don't need to mow it two inches, your lawn. You can raise that up to three inches during the heat of the summer," said Hiel. "Then in the fall when it gets cooler, you can lower it back down to two inches."