Low-water landscaping tips for the summer

Photo by Sandy KoepkeSummer is here! If you’re thinking about doing a landscape makeover and want to look into a low-water alternative, here are a few ideas to help you plan a lush garden that can thrive with very little water.

To minimize water waste, place plants in groups according to their light and water needs.

  • Take advantage of the latest trend in succulents and add some semprevivum to your garden.
  • Choose a variety of plants native to your area or drought-tolerant plants such as catmint, lantana, veronica, sedum or Russian sage.
  • Add a dry streambed using rocks to line a trench and create the look and feel of a water feature but with no water at all!
  • Go for lawnless landscaping, using poured-in-place concrete pavers for a modern look.
  • Add a non-plant focal point such as a Japanese-style bridge, a large rock or stepping stones.
  • And don’t forget to add carefully positioned directional lighting.  

Who said a water conservation garden has to be reduced to a cactus and gravel? Visit your local garden store for more ideas, and don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative!


Xeriscaping: The Art of Landscape Water Conservation

The word Xeriscape (from the Greek word xeros, meaning dry) was coined by employees at Denver Water, Denver, Colorado’s water department, to describe a landscape design that minimizes water usage. The term has now come to encompass all methods of landscaping geared toward the conservation of water, and is fast becoming an ideal set of methodologies to create sustainable landscapes, especially in arid areas.

What is Xeriscaping?

The art of Xeriscaping uses techniques that reduce or completely eliminate the need for additional water for landscaping by focusing on plants that consume relatively less water. Studies show that about 30 percent of water consumption in the suburbs goes towards outdoor irrigation, and of that, 50 percent is lost to evaporation or run-off before the roots can take up the water. With a 15 percent opportunity to save water, xeriscaping has become a popular landscaping method of modern gardens.

How Can I Implement Xeriscaping in My Garden?

There are a few simple steps any homeowner can take to reduce water consumption in the garden and help the environment.

Efficient design: Implement this step when first planning your landscape and considering plants. Hardscaping and softscaping both lend themselves to water conservation; one by basic design and the other by choice of plants. Grouping plants with similar watering needs is one way to accomplish this. For sloping gardens, plants that use less water can be nearer the top and those with higher water requirements at the bottom so the run-off can help save water when you start watering from the top. These are just two examples, and there are many other ways to accomplish this.

Soil Quality Improvement: Using mulch, compost and manure can help retain water for a longer period, and even increase the amount of water the soil can hold. Any gardening supplies store should be able to help you choose the right options for the specific plants in your landscape. The key is to identify the methods that best suit the lay of your land, sun exposure and type of flora.

Smart Irrigation Systems: You can control these systems intelligently, offering a great opportunity to save water in the long run. Systems that are merely automatic can actually waste a lot of water so if you’re putting one in, make sure it has a microchip controlling the flow of water by weather conditions and other parameters.

Regular Weeding and Pruning: It’s surprising how much water is “stolen” by opportunistic plants. Weeding your garden on a regular basis ensures that your plants get the bulk of the water you feed them. Pruning is another way to conserve water – the smaller the plant, the less water it will use. Besides, it will also aesthetically enhance your private Eden.

Try any or all of these methods and watch your water usage drop drastically. Using the right combination of xeriscaping methods along with regular monitoring can save hundreds of gallons of water every year. And you know what they say: every drop counts.

Xeriscaping: Conserving Water While Landscaping

Ever heard of xeriscaping? If you are into both gardening and green living, you may need a proper introduction to the technique. Xeriscaping is traditional landscaping, but it’s practiced in a way that cuts out the need for irrigation to provide extra water for plant life in drier areas.

Landscapers practice xeriscaping in climates that lack sufficient access to a steady supply of fresh water. Historically, gardeners used the method primarily when working with Kentucky bluegrass. In recent years, however, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in climate patterns. Local officials frequently mandate water conservation in many regions, so xeriscaping has increased in popularity as a way to nurture healthy lawns while keeping water use to a minimum.

Advantages of Xeriscaping

The primary advantage of xeriscaping, of course, is that it conserves water. However, it’s not only good for the water supply; the practice has plenty of other advantages tied to it as well.

There are quite a few attractive options for low-water plants, and a big plus is that many of the species carry minimal disease and pest issues. Fertilizers and pesticides can hurt organisms that may provide benefits to your plants, and the chemicals they contain can negatively influence the water and air quality of your home. That’s why plants used in xeriscapes are so great – many don’t require pesticides to thrive.

Another huge bonus for these kinds of plants is that most thrive with very little high-nutrient fertilization. You will also reduce the need to continually prune and maintain your plants and hedges when xeriscaping. This is a very green advantage – think of all the landfill space you’ll preserve over time!

All of these advantages will of course save you loads of time and help the environment in the process. However, the biggest benefit for xeriscaping is the money factor. You will save untold amounts over the years by implementing this technique for your own yard. You can stop buying fertilizer, using hedge clippers, or needing expensive irrigation systems. The biggest savings, however, will show up on your monthly water bill.

Xeriscaping: Best Practices

If you want to try xeriscaping, simply follow a few “best practices” to fashion a drought-tolerant landscape for your own backyard.

Begin by carefully researching and choosing the right water-conserving design for your region. Group plants with comparable moisture requirements so you can use the lowest amount of water possible to sustain them.

For your lawn, determine which variety of grass works the best in your climate with the least amount of water possible. Then, completely replace your existing grass with the new strain. Consider replacing portions of your lawn with a biodegradable ground covering that requires little maintenance as well.

Finally, choose plants that need very little water to sustain life. Use a watering system that conserves as it waters, and apply mulch to ward off erosion and protect against water evaporation.

It may take a bit of work to get your xeriscaping efforts off the ground. But, once your new landscaping is in place and you are reaping the rewards, you will feel good about making the switch – and so will your pocketbook.