Water-smart Landscaping

watering canCreating a water-smart landscape is one of the most effective ways to conserve water, especially in the High Desert where rainfall averages only about five and a half inches annually. Because more than half the water used in homes is used outdoors, creatively planning a landscape that conserves water presents the greatest opportunity to use water wisely.

One of the easiest ways to practice conservation in the garden is to select low-water-use vegetation. While water-efficient plants require adequate irrigation while they are developing root systems, once established they need very little water. And contrary to popular belief, many low-water-use plants are green and lush. Some unabashedly produce a profusion of blooms in brilliant reds and yellows, oranges and pinks.

A water-smart garden may include many elements, such as trees, grasses, shrubs, ground covers, and flowers. Rocks of various sizes create interesting contrasts in the landscape. Applying a layer of mulch can reduce evaporation, provide weed control, and moderate soil temperatures. Good mulches include rocks, bark, gravel, wood chips, or compost.

flowers can be water smart, too!Another important conservation step in any garden is to install an appropriate irrigation system. Grass, which should be planted where it provides functional or recreational benefits, is best watered with an automatic sprinkler system that targets the grassy areas and avoids runoff. Installing drip or bubbler systems to water shrubs, trees, and flower beds saves hundreds of gallons of water. Irrigating early in the day and late in the evening also conserves water.

Water-smart landscaping offers endless possibilities to conserve nature's most precious natural resource. Check with your local nursery or home-improvement center for ideas on water-smart landscaping in your area.