Voice of the River

Commit to a Water-Wise Landscape

BY BRANDY STRAUB, CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER

Each lawn and landscape in Big Sky is part of the Gallatin Watershed. Every drop of water not used by vegetation on these yards and landscapes will eventually make its way to nearby creeks and into the Gallatin River. As our community continues to see growth in both tourism and development, our waters are faced with more potential sources of pollution and less water for fish. Conservation landscaping practices help reduce negative impacts on the Gallatin River and its healthy trout populations.

Here are a few guidelines for a water-wise lawn and landscape.

Be Water Wise:

  • Water your landscape in the early morning between the hours of 4 and 8 AM. This reduces water loss from wind and heat. You can lose 20-25% of water to evaporation by watering in the middle of the day.
  • Water appropriately for soil conditions; usually deeply and infrequently (two to three times per week) to cultivate healthy roots.
  • Stop watering when it’s raining. Pick up a free rain gauge from the Gallatin River Task Force to plan your water use.

1 TO 1.5 INCHES OF WATER – RAINWATER = HOW MUCH TO WATER YOUR LAWN PER WEEK

Be Wise with Fertilizer, Herbicides, and Pesticides:

  • Raise the mower blade to a mowing height of three to four inches to decrease water, fertilizer, and pesticide needs.
  • Only apply herbicide for state- and county-listed noxious weeds, using spot spraying or mechanical removal techniques where appropriate.
  • Use slow-release or organic fertilizer only if needed, not to exceed two pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of yard per year. Do not fertilize within 20 feet of a waterbody or water landscape after fertilization.

Be Wise by Planting Native or Drought-Tolerant Plants and Maintaining Streamside Buffers:

  • Plant native shrubs and trees in yards or along streambanks to reduce water use, improve habitat, and protect the stream.

In planning and maintaining your lawn and landscape this season, accurately think of it as part of the Gallatin watershed and consider making “Water Wise” choices to reduce nutrients and conserve water for our streams and the trout who live in them. Apply for a rebate from the Big Sky Water Conservation program to help support your trout friendly landscaping efforts.

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