With the drought in California continuing to cause water shortages and drive the cost of water through the roof, many people are looking for ways to keep their gardens and yards while at the same time reducing the amount of water they use. You may have heard the term “Xeriscaping”, but may not be sure what this really is. Xeriscaping is an alternative form of landscaping using plants and materials that do not require massive amounts of water. Although this form of landscaping will definitely save water and money over time, it does require a certain amount of knowledge and planning.
Choose Plants Native to Your Area
One of the most important things about plants that are native to your area is that they have already adapted to living in your region. This means that they are used to your climate along with the limited amount of water available. For those who live in Southern California, you can use plants that are native not only to this area but also to Arizona and New Mexico. This includes penstemon, yucca, and cactus, which all make great choices for your eco-friendly yard.
These are just the beginning as their other plants such as the purple cornflower and the rattlesnake master or goldenrod that can be added to create an amazing looking yard without the need to use copious amounts of precious water to keep them alive. Bear in mind that while these plants are considered water-wise, this doesn’t mean they are drought-proof. You may find you have to water them during severe droughts.
Hydrozoning is a technique by which you place the plants in your yard based on their specific watering needs. In other words, try to put plants that need more water closer to your house or their source of water and those that do not need as much water further away. This way you will not be giving water to plants that really don’t need it. This is a good way to make the most of your water, without wasting it.
Mulch Those Gardens
Mulch is a great way to make good use of very little water. Properly placed mulch can be used to lock the available water in the ground around your plants rather than letting it evaporate into the air during the heat of the day. Mulch also cuts down on the growth or water sucking weeds and the amount of work it takes to keep them under control.
A Word about Your Lawn
Here in sunny Southern California, we have become used to having immaculate green lawns. However, traditional lawns take huge amounts of water on a regular basis during the summer months. Does this mean you must get rid of your lawn? Absolutely not! Instead, it means that you should consider replacing your current lawn with drought-tolerant grasses that have been proven to do well in your area.
As you can see, it really doesn’t take much to create a yard that is both beautiful to look at and uses far less water. If you are still not sure what types of grass and plants to use in xeriscaping your yard, talk to one of your local professional landscaping companies or contact the horticulture department at the California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo for more information.