Nowadays, when we are constantly witnessing unexpected climate change and unusual weather patterns, conserving water and adopting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle seem like a must.
With another drought around the corner, wasting water is simply unreasonable and irresponsible. As a result, to many people, this means having to sacrifice their beautiful gardens and abundant greenery. Do not despair yet, there is a solution. For owners who are still keen on having a rich and lush plant life and a landscape with outstanding curb appeal, there are features they can install that use little or no water. Such are an artificial turf, ornamental grasses and lawn replacements, such as gravel and stone. If designed well, they can still provide the much-desired aesthetic appeal.
Here are some ideas how to use water sparingly but still have a gorgeous garden.
Use native plants
Plants that are native to a particular region are exactly the ones that are most often considered to be drought-tolerant as well. These plants have grown there long before people introduced new decorative plants and ideas. They’ve already developed their own mechanism of surviving in a water-challenged environment and have become water-wise in order to survive with very little to no rainfall at all. Therefore, it’s an excellent idea to do some research and find out which native plants grow in your area and make the most of it.
Depending on the region, the most common examples of drought-tolerant plants are cacti and succulents, but there are other options, such as thyme, woolly yarrow, lavender and Artemisia. Combining these plants with mulch will help you achieve the best possible effect. Spread about 2-3 inches of it between widely spaced plants and it will significantly decrease water loss and prevent weed from booming.
Rethink your grass lawn
The fastest way to reduce water loss is to decrease the amount of your grass surface. In order to look green and vibrant but without dry brown patches, your lawn needs a ton of moisture, so the best way to go is to replace it, at least partially.
One way to do it is to use artificial grass. This might seem very off-putting to most people at first, since the only artificial grass they have seen is the neon green at professional football fields! But it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. Today, there is a variety of choices that can provide you with practical solutions.
If you’re looking for a more modern and minimalist look, instead of artificial grass, use gravel or stone. It’s very low-maintenance, it asks for no water and it can provide a great contrast to succulents and shrubs.
Balance out hardscape and softscape elements
Hardscape elements, such as the above-mentioned gravel and stone, are champions in rising up to the challenge of a drought-tolerant yard. Ideally, a well-designed landscape includes both hardscape and softscape elements in proper balance. Too much of one or the other can have quite the opposite effect and ruin the design. Too much concrete or stone can make a place look too industrial and too much softscape might make your garden look like a jungle. So, try to combine concrete and grass strips on the driveway, include walkways in the backyard, pavers on the patio, retaining walls and colourful tall grass.
When choosing hardscape, bear in mind that it can have different impact on the environment. While concrete pavements prevent water from soaking through to the soil and cause runoffs, porous stone allows it to go through. So, this is a much more efficient water-saving strategy since you can easily combine it with plants that require more water. Other areas can be covered with groundcovers, such as oregano, thyme, showy foliage and mulch. They will create a great contrast to stone and pavements.
Upgrade your watering system
Water-saving strategies don’t mean that you have to eliminate all water sources to your yard and sacrifice its beauty. There are many tricks you can use to keep your landscape thriving. You can add a raised bed with distinct boulders and include plants that can prevent water loss from a sudden grade shift. If you carefully select those boulders, you can make a gradual slope and direct water to planted areas.
Another solution is to install a drip irrigation system which wastes less water and gives plants direct hydrations. Examine your existing outdoor plumbing and see if you might need to do some repairs to ensure there is no water leakage. Certain professionals, as this Sydney-based plumber, can not only fix a burst pipe, but also ‘rehabilitate’ your outdoor pipes with the relining process (a trenchless repair with no digging involved), so your precious landscape will be completely preserved. Here you can read how to choose best garden hose.
Plant ornamental grasses and perennials
A lot of types of grasses are not an average green blanket you might expect but are very drought-tolerant and perfect for a water-efficient garden. Ornamental grasses are a great example – their water needs are very low, and they come in surprising shades of colours. This means that you can mix them successfully to achieve variety, texture and contrast. Some of the most beautiful examples are Purple Fountain Grass, Little Bluestem, Fountain Grass and Blue Oatgrass.
If you still can’t imagine your garden without flowers, choose perennials. They require very little water and are sturdier and more drought-resistant. They go perfectly with ornamental grasses and come in all imaginable colours – lavender is purple and very fragrant, yarrow offers a burst of yellow, Salvia is bold crimson, Russian Sage has delicate silver leaves and subtle purple flowers and Kangaroo Paw is exotic with bright red or soft orange flowers.
If you live in a drought-prone region, water preservation is surely high on your list of priorities, but it’s obvious that it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a dry, neglected and unattractive garden. By making some practical swaps and choosing appropriate plants and landscaping techniques, you will not only have a water-efficient yard, but also a gorgeous garden where you can enjoy and relax all year round.