We can start by practicing water-saving landscaping practices. Americans use approximately eight billion gallons of water every day irrigating our…
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Landscape irrigation accounts for 30 percent of our domestic water use. To reduce the amount of water your landscape requires, consider incorporating some of these water-wise ideas into your design.
Source: The U.S. Geological Survey
Whether these conditions are due to global warming, human activity, or natural cycles, the fact of the matter is that fresh water is not an infinite resource, and the more we can do to conserve it, the better. So the question is: what can we do about it?
We can start by practicing water-saving landscaping practices. Americans use approximately eight billion gallons of water every day irrigating our landscapes. In fact, irrigation accounts for almost 30 percent of our annual domestic water use.
Whether you are starting a landscape from scratch or renovating an existing one, here are some ideas to help you create a water-wise landscape:
Lawn grasses are not only major water hogs, but they're also responsible for a lot of the pollution that enters our air and water. Consider all of the weed killers, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers that are dumped on the typical American lawn. On top of that, there are gas powered lawn mowers, string trimmers, and leaf blowers that spew pollutants and add to our air quality problems.
A better plan is to figure out how much lawn you really need. Some municipalities and homeowner's associations require homeowners to have a lawn, especially in the front yard. If you are able to, consider removing the lawn (or not installing one in the first place) and using perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees to green your yard instead. For an alternative to grass, there are several groundcovers that do a great job, such as creeping thyme, isotoma and pratia. Remove as much lawn as you can, and replace it with flower, vegetable, or herb gardens, seating areas, or trees.
If you decide to keep the lawn, consider the fact that you don't necessarily have to keep it emerald green. Many cool-season grasses, such as perennial ryegrass, fescues, and Kentucky bluegrass naturally go dormant in heat and drought conditions, and green up again beautifully once the weather changes.
Native plants are those that are perfectly suited to your climate, rainfall, and soil conditions. What this means, in general, is that they'll need a lot less coddling from you, both in terms of water use and in terms of added fertilizers and pesticides.
A big misconception about natives is that they are wild looking and messy plants that have no place in a planned landscape. In fact, there is a wide range of native choices available no matter what part of the country you live in. For a comprehensive list of native plants for your state, check out eNature's Native Gardening Guide.
When designing a garden, or even a single planting bed, most of us consider aesthetics, along with sun exposure. Other plant requirements--namely water requirements--are often left to chance. When purchasing plants for your garden, pay close attention to the water needs of each plant. These requirements are generally listed on the plant tag, but if you can't find that information on the tag, simply search online for your plant.
When it comes time to plant, place the greenery that like dry conditions in one area, plants that need moderate water in another, and plants with high water needs in their own spot. If water conservation is the goal, you'll want to keep water-loving plants to less than a quarter of your total landscape.
Mulching is a ridiculously easy, but often overlooked water conservation task. Adding a two to three inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, shredded bark, straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, or cocoa hulls will maintain soil moisture.
If you have a lawn, consider using a mulching mower and leaving your grass clippings on the lawn. The clippings shade the soil, which prevents weed seeds from germinating, and keeps the soil moist and cool. As an added bonus, clippings break down, providing you lawn with extra nitrogen.
The concept of a rain garden meshes perfectly with the idea of grouping your plants according to water needs. In addition, a rain garden makes use of runoff, generally from roofs and gutters, and makes a kind of 'filter' so that any toxins are filtered out by plant roots and soil microorganisms before reaching groundwater.
For a simple rain garden, choose an area at the end of a roof downspout. If you have heavy clay soil, you'll have to excavate some of it and replace it with faster draining soil, maybe mixed with some sand. Plant the area with plants that require more moisture. In periods of intense rain, the runoff from the gutters will collect in this area, keeping the plants watered and happy without having to run the hose. In dryer conditions, it will be easier to water because you will have already grouped similar plants together.
If you are looking for detailed information on how to build a rain garden, you should find plenty of resources online and in bookstores. One of the best web resources is this article from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which includes a list of region-specific plants for a rain garden.
Have you got your pool design picked out, but you don't know what to do about the surrounding area? Read this article to learn more about different landscape suggestions for pool areas.
Koi ponds can be a beautiful addition to your landscape design. This article offers information on koi ponds and provides tips to help you care for your koi.
Rock gardens can make a beautiful addition to any landscape design. This article provides information on rock gardens and includes tips to help you create your own rock garden.
Do you know what theme design theme to choose when designing or upgrading your pool's surroundings? A pool isn't the only priority, how the landscape fits into the area is as equally important. Here are a some ideas to get you started.
Xeriscaping is a gardening method that is focused on the goal of saving water. Incorporating xeric principles into your landscape will result in less water use, less work, and a much more efficient garden.
Compost tea is simple to make, and can be used on any plant in your landscape. To learn more about this wonderful organic concoction, keep reading!
Ornamental grasses are wonderful additions to any landscape. This article offers tips on choosing and planting ornamental grass.
A butterfly garden can add natural beauty to your landscape design. This article offers tips on creating butterfly gardens and provides a list of the flowers and plants that are most apt to attract butterflies.
Are you prepared to start doing the landscaping for your garden? Before you begin planting, you must prepare the soil. Read this article for tips on how to prepare the soil for your flowers, plants and seeds.
Do you love the sight of fresh flower blooms? Do you want to know which flowers are the most fragrant? Flowers can add beauty and color to any homeowner's landscaping. Read this article to learn more about roses, snapdragons, tulips and many other flowers.
Do you love the idea of being able to pick your own fruit? Then, you may want to incorporate fruit trees into your landscaping plans for your home. Read this article to learn how to choose the fruit trees that are right for you.
Have you decided to incorporate rose bushes into your landscaping? Many homeowners choose to have roses because they make a beautiful and fragrant addition to any yard or flower garden. Read this article to learn how to select, plant and care for rose bushes.