Your Garden: Less Water, More Green

From on April 02, 2007 in Landscaping

Is your yard looking a little tired after the winter? Are you a little tired at the thought of keeping your lawn looking good all summer - the mowing, the watering, the fertilizer, the never-ending maintenance?

If so, you’re not alone. Local landscape professionals report that more and more Bay Area homeowners are giving up their lawns and thirsty plants in favor of native plants and water-wise design.

Especially this year, when we’ve had very little rain, every drop of water counts, and some cities are already warning of impending rationing. Saving water also saves energy, as it takes quite a bit to move water from its source in the Sierra to your house. But garden pros point out another form of energy conservation that’s really driving the trend: saving the homeowner’s own energy for something other than yard maintenance. If you’re thinking of a change, here are some ideas to help you plan.

Replace thirsty plants with natives.

Plants that have been thriving in California for centuries without human intervention will be just as happy in your yard (and many from similar climates in the Mediterranean area and the Southern Hemisphere will also do well). While some zealous types replace their entire garden with succulents and cacti, there’s no need to go that route; your local nursery or garden pro can help you with plants that complement your home and reflect your taste: flowers, native grasses, shrubs with variegated foliage, and trees that like their roots dry.

Install an automated sprinkler system. OK, you really love that lawn. But you don’t have to water the whole neighborhood along with the grass. Install a water-stingy sprinkler system with the heads aimed just where the water’s needed, and put the system on a timer. Better yet…

Install a drip irrigation system. Like automated sprinkler systems, drip irrigation systems are on timers.

Unlike sprinklers, they consist of narrow, perforated hose-like tubing that can be buried or placed above ground, and which deliver a slow, steady trickle directly to the plant’s roots. (This has the added benefit of helping with weed control, as you’re not watering the unwanted vegetation.)

Use mulch. Water-wise landscapes often use bark, gravel, compost or similar materials extensively to discourage weeds and to keep moisture in the soil.

Your landscaping can also make your home’s interior more energy-efficient, especially in the summer heat. Plant trees to shade overly sunny windows. Also, plant shrubs and trees around your air conditioning unit — they’ll help cool the surrounding air. Your A/C system will use less power and probably enjoy a longer life.

If your garden’s due for a makeover, don’t hesitate to contact us with questions. And when you’re ready to transform your yard into the garden of your dreams, call on us for the perfect landscape specialist.

[tags]native plants, landscaping, less water gardening[/tags]