Water conservation champs

Merrimack residents Jim and Michelle Demerjian use common sense and creativity to nurture the spacious yard that surrounds their Greenleaf Street home, an abode they built 17 years ago that is serviced with well water.

The setup prompts their goal of conserving every possible drop of water. The precious resource is traditionally lavished upon irrigation, hose sprinkling and swimming pool maintenance. Nevertheless, the Demerjians enjoy an opulent garden whose plants thrive on rain water and rain-barrel water, along with water from portable containers with slow-drip spouts and water sourced from their indoor dehumidifier.

“It’s live or die in my yard,” Michelle said. “When I first plant things, I muddy them in — water their bases with a watering can — for two weeks and then they’re on their own.”

Michelle, whose success in securing a recent marketing degree depended upon her creation of a comprehensive business plan, chose “Garden MD” as her project. An embroidered logo she designed graces her blue shirt. The theme was a natural selection, for her longtime interest in gardening has led to the installation of flowers, shrubs, grasses and more than 100 types of daylilies, perennials needful of minimal watering.

A large blue rain barrel with a lid and a hose that collects water from rooftop runoff is full due to recent downpours. Other vessels collect drips from air conditioners and porch roofs. Dehumidifier water from inside the home is used for watering plants outdoors and indoors.

Jim once lamented a strong runoff of heavy rain from a slope alongside the home’s driveway. The incline occasionally enabled a torrent to course through their yard and flow onto a neighbor’s property. His solution was to chart the water’s path and then construct a breakwall of stone that now diffuses the flow to dozens of flowering plants showcased there.

“We try to build rock walls to hold the water and soil where we want it to stay,” Jim said. “There originally was no grass here, no nothing.”

The couple offers some suggestions about plants they have successfully grown with little water except rain, hand watering with a watering can or by slow-drip methods. Daylilies, Echinacea (Coneflower) and Lavandula (Lavender), along with allium (Ornamental Onion) and Thymus praecox (Creeping Thyme) are some dependables.

Additional water conservation suggestions are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency online: epa.gov/watersense