Water conservation and Lawn Conversions are hot topics in the Landscaping industry. Homeowners are anxious to keep bills down and are faced with restrictions from their water districts. Outside watering is limited in some communities to only two days a week and during certain hours. That’s a reasonable concern for homeowners who enjoy an attractive landscape. Curb appeal is important…not only to the homeowner wishing to sell their property, but aesthetically to the community or neighborhood at large.
I’d like to offer some options that may relieve some of that anxiety. You don’t have to have a brown, ugly lawn! Neither, do you have to eliminate your lawn completely. Lawns have many good aspects. They are a nice spot for kids to play, and they have a soothing effect on the eye. Turf represents an area of what I call “quiet space”, even if it is a small wave or meadow-like meandering of lawn that sets off the surrounding landscape. Like yin-yang, it accentuates the surrounding plantings by adding stillness or area of peace or balance as the eye follows the colors textures, and movement of the plants in your surrounding landscape. One good option is reducing the size of your lawn. Very often, lawns are overwatered. You can have a beautiful, lush green lawn by watering deeply once or twice a week…about 20 minutes or so, even less when we get rain, and then not watering again until the next week. We recommend morning and evening of the same day, or two days in a row, and then “off” for the rest of the week. Always make sure your irrigation is hitting areas you want to water and not over or under shooting the targeted area. Fertilize regularly, and water responsibly and you can still have a smaller, but reasonable size lawn.
We often use the term “Water-Wise Without the Compromise”, meaning you can have the landscape of your dreams by learning how and when to water, selecting varieties of plants that are both beautiful and have lower irrigation needs, and avoiding extremely thirsty plants.
Other options for reducing water consumption can be getting creative by redefining outdoor spaces. This can be done by adding some pathways with decomposed granite, gravel or smooth stones, or removing a portion of lawn to add a deck, or patio. Perhaps creating a natural looking dry creek bed would give new dimension to your landscape giving the impression of a mountain stream. In planted areas, use a timer and make sure your irrigation system is not faulty or leaking.
Succulents have gained popularity during our sensitivity to conservation. They too need some water, but hold moisture in their stems and leaves longer than most other plants. They blend beautifully with water-wise perennials, and shrubs, making a conversion to more succulents an easy transition. If you like a tropical landscape, there are many succulents that create a very tropical appearance and are water-wise, as well.
Surprisingly, even Roses, when watered at a reasonable rate, and fertilized and pruned as needed, can be beautifully maintained in your water-wise garden along with your favorite perennials. Over-watering has been a habit for most of us for a long time. One of the most common answers here at the nursery when someone asks about a yellowing or leaf dropping specimen they are worried about is … “over-watering”. It may not always be the answer, but it is very common to think we are helping a plant by over watering it!
One way to conserve both water and time is to add a nice 3” layer of mulch over the soil in your planted areas. It will manage weeds, while slowing evaporation after watering. This “win-win” solution performs double duty in the landscape by not letting those weed seeds germinate and holding moisture around your plants. When water restrictions are being enforced, let’s think of it as an exciting challenge to keep our landscapes beautiful and thriving, rather than an imposing handicap.
I hope I have encouraged you to continue a quest for beauty in your landscape. Working with our hands in the nice rich soil is good therapy. It gets us outside…relieves tension …is fun and creative…gives us some good exercise, and improves your surroundings, not to mention our temperament. I’ve heard some people refer to gardening as a chore! Why not think of it as a hobby? …better yet, a passion? I found some great images of decks, patios, fire pits, and various pathway options as I explored the internet. Pinterest has great visuals too. Enjoy!!