Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conserving Water

From time to time, most parts of the country experience some degree of water shortage. It may only last a week or two, or it may last long enough for us to lose some of our valuable plants, but in any case it's best to be prepared for the dry times. Here are a few tips to help you conserve water in your garden:

- Mulch helps the soil retain moisture, and also improves the appearance of your garden.

- Select native plants as often as possible. These plants are adapted to the climate in your area.

- Water less often, but more deeply, and focus on the root zones rather than the entire yard.

- Terrace steep slopes to reduce runoff.

- Maintaining a lush, green lawn requires a lot of water. Consider planting a groundcover instead.

- Sandy soils lose water because they drain quickly, and clay soils lose water to runoff. Adding organic matter to these soils will help them hold moisture. It costs nothing to start a compost pile, and in a few months you'll have a ready supply of organic matter to work into your soil.

- Recycle household wastewater from your dishwasher, bathtub and kitchen sink. You can also use water from your washing machine if you limit the use of detergents containing boron (borax) and chlorine bleach.

- Set out an old-fashioned rain barrel connected to the downspout on your house for a ready supply of water.

Cutting Car Costs

From a recent study, here are four of the most common misconceptions drivers have and the facts you should know:

Two out of three motorists think their vehicle tires should be rotated every 10,000 or less miles.
They should be rotated every 6,000-7,500 miles. Costs: Premature tire wear and unnecessary, early tire replacement.

Two out of five motorists believe that a car's warranty is good only if the vehicle is serviced at a new car dealership.
The routine maintenance required to keep a warranty in effect can be done at a dealership, independent service shop or even by the owner. Records and receipts that document the service must be kept. Costs: Higher dealership labor charges for years.

Most motorists think they know the correct pressure for their vehicle's tires.
Only 38% in this study could state it accurately. Costs: Premature tire wear, blowouts, loss of control and early tire replacement.

Almost 40% of all drivers often buy mid-grade or premium gasoline for their cars.
Only 10-15% of all vehicles need high-octane gas. Costs: Unnecessary waste of 10-20% of fuel costs.