Useful Info: Gardening Tips Xeriscaping Revisions Dec 2011

7 Principles to Manage Non-Essential Water Use

In Dallas it is estimated that over 60% of our high quality water is used on landscapes; a “non-essential” use of clean water. Thru mid July 2011 our lake reservoirs were down 12.8%.

In Dallas it is estimated that over 60% of our high quality water is used on landscapes; a non-essentialuse of clean water. Thru mid July 2011 our lake reservoirs were down 12.8%. Watering restrictions have been put in place by the City of Dallas and many surrounding communities. Water is a limited and fragile resource, necessary for human why use more than half of it for the landscape?

Xeriscaping does not mean a garden of cacti and rocks. It DOES mean incorporating the following 7 principles to manage non essential water use:

1. Planning and design: The garden consists of many different microclimates which can be caused by buildings, trees, roots, sun and shade areas, slope of the ground, winds, rain shadow and frost pocket areas. All of these factors affect the amount of sun, water and nutrients that are available to a plant and should be taken into account when designing your garden.

2. Soil Improvement: Soils have a tremendous effect on the amount of moisture available to a plant. If the soil drains too fast, or if it is hard and compacted not allowing water to penetrate, it needs to be amended. Improving the structure of your native soil helps with moisture retention, an adequate supply of oxygen in the root zone and providing essential nutrients to the plants.

3. Selective Turf Areas: Turf grasses require more frequent watering and maintenance than any other landscape plant. Decreasing the amount of landscape devoted to turf by installing patios, decks, walkways, shrubs or ground cover is the fastest way to save time and money.

4. Plant Selection: Plants should be selected and grouped by their needs for sun or shade and moisture to make the most effective use of your time and water. Using containers for flowering or moisture loving plants is a great way to add them to your landscape without over watering. Plants use their root systems and foliage to manage moisture. Some plants have long tap roots that will dig down to find moisture; others have water-storing roots or sinuous roots that will seek moisture. Smaller leaves have less surface area therefore reducing the moisture lost to transpiration. Some plants have hairy or shiny leaves which help protect from the sun. Carefully selected plants in a well designed dry garden can be as lush and beautiful as a wet garden, but with lower water bill and less time spent on maintenance.

5. Efficient Irrigation: By watering less frequently but deeply, you can reduce the amount of water used, and increase the health of your plants/turf. Zone your irrigation system so that you aren’t over-watering parts of your landscape. Run the system while you are home to check for broken sprinkler heads and adjusting heads that are watering driveways or walkways. Water in late evening or early morning to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation. Remember irrigation systems apply a large amount of water in a short time. Make sure this water is supplying your plants not the sewer.

6. Mulch, Mulch, and more MULCH! Mulch provides multiple benefits to your garden. It helps to regulate soil temperature, protects roots from the sun, aids in retaining moisture by reducing evaporation significantly and reduces weeds.

7. Sustainable Maintenance: A well designed xeriscape landscape can decrease the amount of time (and money) you spend on maintenance by as much as 50%. The more water and fertilizer you apply to a lawn, the faster the grass grows, but the root system will be shorter and shallow. The result: a lawn that requires far more frequent mowing but is fragile and can fail easily. Healthy plants get the right amount of nutrients, water, oxygen, and sun. They are more resistant to diseases requiring less care and almost no replacement costs.

Tagged with: native landscaping use less water xeriscape
Reference: PRLog: 11928455

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