The hot, dry summer season is rapidly approaching. In many parts of the world, including here in California, drought conditions are wreaking havoc on water supplies. Many jurisdictions are asking residents to voluntarily cut back on water usage. Mandatory rationing is possible.
But wherever you live, landscape planning that uses native and drought-tolerant plants can conserve water, save money, and look attractive, as well.
How to Create a Water-Saving Landscape Plan
- Start with a base map. This is a plot of the design area. It will include static elements such as property lines, buildings, driveways, and other features that will not change. It’s also a good idea to mark public utility lines on the base map.
- Survey the characteristics of the property. Observe natural features of the property, such as areas of sun and shade. You should also note the site’s natural drainage pattern. Landscape planning that follows natural contours, such as placing water-loving plants in naturally low-lying areas or areas of moisture-retaining clayey soil, will give you better long-term results. You should also note other needs, such as privacy screening or planting to block an objectionable view.
- Determine the functions of yard areas. Will your rear yard be used for outdoor entertaining or a kickball field? Is the side yard going to be an herb garden or used for extra parking? Design around how you intend to use the various components of the property.
- Create planting zones by water needs. Taking all of the above factors into account, create zones in your landscape that are defined by water requirements. Try and keep plants needing more water to lower, shadier areas, for example.
- Select appropriate plants. This will be determined by the climate zone you live in and the characteristics specific to your property. Use plants that are native to your area or are suitable to your climate zone. If you’re in a dry zone, but want to use some plants that need extra irrigation, plant them in as small a zone as possible and limit them to areas where they can be seen and enjoyed.
Xeriscape: The Economical, Functional and Beautiful Solution
Your front yard doesn’t have to look like a gravel pit to drastically reduce water usage. A concept known as xeriscape (translated from Greek, it means “dry scene”) has gained in popularity in recent years. The main reason, of course, is to save water. But there are other benefits, too. Xeriscapes require much less time and effort to maintain, further saving money for the homeowner.
Xeriscaping can also be functional. For example, you may want to include some trees, plants and herbs that provide food for your family.
With a little planning and creativity, a xeriscape can also be extremely beautiful.