Although the California drought has required our continued effort to conserve water, there’s no reason you can’t conserve water and grow a beautiful garden as well. It could also translate to savings in your water bill.
Growing the right plants can provide a water-efficient landscape that saves up to 10,000 gallons a year and reduce annual water bills by $30 to $70 dollars. Since native plants have been able to adjust to a region’s annual rainfall, they require little watering. Drought-tolerant plants like lavender and jade, also require little watering and can help to conserve water.
Mulching around plants is a good way to reduce water loss while also adding nutrients to the soil and reducing the likelihood of weeds. By placing around 2-4 inches of mulch – which could take the form of compost, bark chips or pine needles – you can slow the evaporation of moisture and reduce the need for watering.
Garden paths made of porous material can help any rainwater seep into the ground to nourish roots rather than run off to the street. Gravel, pebbles, non-mortared concrete pavers and spaced bricks are ideal.
Place thirsty plants near the house to take advantage of roof runoff, which can be as much as 600 gallons per hour from a 25-by-40 foot roof during moderate rainfall (and which can be stored in a water barrel). Native plants can be planted further out from the house. Knowing where the sun hits your garden can help determine where to place dry-soil plants, with plants that require more water planted in shady areas.
By watering in the morning rather than during the day, you’ll lose less water to evaporation. Watering at dusk, however, places plants at risk of mildew and fungus.
With lawns typically requiring more than 20,000 gallons of water each year, it might be worth considering getting rid of it or, at least, opting for Bermuda or buffalo grass which requires 20% less water than fescue or bluegrass. Better yet, you might consider drought-resistant grasses like Eco-lawn. Letting grass grow above three inches helps promote water retention in the soil.
Additional tips: Sweep walkways and driveways instead of watering; prevent sprinklers from watering the sidewalk and position them to water the garden; drip irrigation systems are more efficient than overhead watering systems.
Water conservation can be easy, saving time and money while also doing your part to protect our natural resources.