Scottsbluff’s downtown parking lots provide more than just parking and pretty greenspace.
The gardens are designed to help curb pollution from snow and rain runoff through infiltration and phytoremediation (the use of plants to fight pollutants), make snow removal more efficient in the winter, reduce reflective heat in the summer, provide pollinator habitat, help recharge groundwater reserves, and feature regionally native plants and trees for the Nebraska Panhandle.
This week we celebration Nebraska Wildflower Week and all the benefits wildflowers provide for our environment, including clean water.
– Wildflower’s extensive and deep root systems slow down runoff, reduce soil erosion, and absorb dirty water before it gets into the nearby waterways.
– Wildflowers provide critical habitat for pollinators, beneficial insects, and wildlife.
– Wildflowers are native to where they grow, conditioned to thrive there. That means they use less water and fertilizer, resist disease and are more tolerant to pests.
Photo © creativecommonsstockphotos
Groundwater naturally recharges as rainfall or other surface water infiltrates into the ground. Precipitation falls on the land, soaks through the soil and moves to the water table. Natural recharge can also occur when water seeps from rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands to the water table. Much of Gering’s groundwater recharge occurs this way from the North Platte River and canal systems.
However, low precipitation this winter means groundwater levels haven’t recharged to typical levels. This makes water conservation more important.
Plan now to conserve water with:
– native plant landscapes
– efficient watering systems set with water saving practices like a drip system set for early morning or late evening watering and moisture sensor to avoid over watering.
– water harvesting practices like rain barrels or directing downspouts to lawn and garden areas
– utilizing indoor water saving techniques like shorter showers, full laundry and dishwasher loads and low-flow faucet taps and shower heads.
We’re in the hot and dry spell of summer here. Water landscapes wisely to help them thrive:
– Only water landscape plants when dry. Plants suffer more from overwatering than underwatering.
– Water the plant’s root zone, not the foilage, to save water and reduce disease.
– Adjust sprinkler heads to water plants, not sidewalks and curbs.
– Set timers to avoid over-watering
– Plan now to install more native shrubs and groundcover plants to reduce water demand in the future.
Our downtown native landscapes serve many functions: to absorb and purify water, stormwater managements, water conservation, beautification, and inspiration. Enjoy these Nebraska native plants from the Guadalupe Center’s pollinator garden.
Friday, June 8, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM City of Gering’s Nebraska Statewide Arboretum site tour. Meet at Gering City Plaza, 11th Avenue and N Street. Tour stops: Plaza Project, Monument Heights Island, Legacy of the Plains. Public invited to attend
Friday, June 8, Noon – 1:30 “Imagine the Possibilities” Green
Team Luncheon. Past and present Green Team or Greener Nebraska Towns team members are invited to brainstorm future public/private partnership projects and resources in the tri-city area. Please RSVP to 630-8011 before Wednesday, June 6 if you plan to attend
Friday, June 8, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM City of Scottsbluff Downtown Project Tour. Meet at the Downtown Plaza. Tour stops: Bulb-outs, parking lot rain gardens, Wellhouse 3, Guadalupe Center. Public invited to attend.
Friday, June 8, 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM Panhandle Planning Team BBQ @ Peaceful Prairie. Panhandle Wildflower Week Planning Team to meet at Peaceful Prairie
Friday, June 8, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Twilight Wildflower Hike at Wildcat Hills with Amanda Filipi. Meet at Wildcat Hills Nature Center. Public invited to attend.
Saturday, June 9, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM Demonstration planting at Nebraska Pioneer Stadium. Please call 436-3307 if interested in volunteering.
2018 Wildflower Week Events in Western Nebraska
June 2 near Lewellen. Wildflower Talk and Walk at Ash Hollow State Historical Park at 9am. Meet at the Visitor Center and dress for walking through tallgrass prairie. 308-778-5651, email@example.com
June 3 near Harrison. “Wildflowers 101” talk and walk with a ranger through lowlands, prairie and rocky uplands to see a variety of wildflowers 2-4pm at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center, 301 River Rd. Trails are open dawn to dusk. firstname.lastname@example.org, 308-665-4110
June 7 in Chadron. Western Nebraska Landscape: planting project, water use tour and wildflower presentation. Meet at 9am at Chadron State College Range Land Lab, wear gardening togs and sunscreen; ends at noon. email@example.com
June 8 near Gering. “Wildflower Walk in the Wildcats” 7pm at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center, 210615 Hwy 71, Gering NE 69341. firstname.lastname@example.org , 308-436-3777
June 8 in Gering. Tour of municipal landscapes 10-11:30am starting from Gering City Plaza, 11th Street and N St. 308-436-6834, email@example.com
June 8 in Scottsbluff. “Imagine the Possibilities” brainstorming session with past and present Green Team or Greener Nebraska Town members from 12-1:30pm at Monument Shadows Grill. Please RSVP by June 6. 308-630-8011, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 8 in Scottsbluff. Tour of downtown landscapes from 2-3pm starting from 19th & Broadway. 308-630-8011, email@example.com
June 10 near Harrison. “Wildflowers 101” talk and walk with a ranger through lowlands, prairie and rocky uplands to see a variety of wildflowers 2-4pm at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center, 301 River Rd. Trails are open dawn to dusk. firstname.lastname@example.org, 308-665-4110
June 14 in Ogallala. During the Summer Concert Series, the 2nd street bump-outs with wildflower planters between Spruce and East A will be highlighted; concerts are in Rendezvous Square on East 2nd.
1. Mulch to retain soil moisture and control weeds.
2. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need to be watered as frequently and they usually will survive a dry period without any watering.
3. Group plans together based on similar water needs.
4. Choose the right water system for the job. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses work well in plant beds, while sprinklers work better on the lawn.
Photo © Creative Commons Zero (CC0)
Here are 10 top ways to save water in the New Year.
1. KNOW WHERE YOUR WATER IS WASTED
Scottsbluff pumps 6.6 million gallons a day in the heat of the summer and 2.8 million gallons a day the coldest month. The majority of the difference is for lawn irrigation. Limit outdoor w
ater waste with drought tolerant turf, xeriscaping, rain gardens and other sustainable landscape options.
2. UPGRADE YOUR APPLIANCES & FIXTURES
Choose a WaterSense labeled high-efficiency clothes washers, toilets, and showerheads to save more than 20% from conventional appliances.
3. WATER LESS
Water at dawn while cool and calm, to reduce evaporation. Water in short bursts, instead of a long soak, for better soil infiltration.
4. SHORTEN YOUR SHOWERS
Even a one- or two-minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month, for a family of four. Save up to 200 to 300 gallons per month by using a bucket or to capture what is waste while waiting for the shower or sink water to warm up, and use it on house-plants or in your garden.
5. SWEEP, DON’T HOSE
Save 150 gallons or more by sweeping instead of hosing driveways and sidewalks. Don’t run the hose while washing your car on the lawn. Instead, use a bucket of water and a quick hose rinse which saves 150 gallons each time and gives the lawn a water boost.
6. WATER THE GREEN, NOT THE GUTTER
Adjust sprinklers so that water lands on the lawn or garden – and only there. That can save 500 gallons per month. Check for broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Also, ensure that drip system nozzles and emitters are directed toward your plants and not at a sidewalk or driveway.
7. PLANT A NATIVE GARDEN
Native gardens require less maintenance, don’t need chemical fertilizers and attract butterflies and hummingbirds! Panhandle friendly plants can reduce a home’s water consumption by 60 percent.
8. DON’T WASTE THE RAIN
Capture rain runoff in a rain barrel to water the garden or design a swale to slow, spread, and sink rainwater into the soil. That way you’ll need to irrigate less and can conserve more.
9. DON’T WATER WHEN IT RAINS
It seems obvious, but don’t water during downpours or in the hours after a storm. Rain or soil moisture sensors can determine if and how long to water. Both devices can stand-alone or added on to existing controllers. They can reduce outdoor water use by up to 70 percent without sacrificing the quality or health of your landscape.
10. LOCATE THE LEAKS
A minor leak can waste 20 gallons a day and a leaky toilet wastes up to 200 gallons of water per day. Don’t let minor water leaks in your home go unfixed. Check for and repair leaks in all toilets, faucets and showerheads.
It’s nearly July and the gardens are green and full of early summer blossoms – using just rainwater.
Late last week the City of Scottsbluff finally turned the water on the downtown gardens, about three months after lawn watering began around the city. Native and well adapted plants use much less water than traditional turf once established. They’re also drought hardy, provide needed habitat for pollinators and create a distinct sense of place with a plant palate tailored for the Nebraska Panhandle.