Landscaping Ideas that Use Less Water

Water use for landscaping is under increasing scrutiny in areas where water is less plentiful, including many western states. Some communities offer incentives for landscape designs that require less water to thrive. New landscape ideas built around reduced water consumption are growing in popularity.

Plan for Success

When considering any alterations to a landscape, the first thing to take into account is what the yard will be used for. A front yard should complement the exterior of a home while a back yard may be for suited entertaining, a kids play area or simply a place to relax in quiet and privacy. Consult landscape design services for ideas.

Other considerations include an assessment of the existing plants, access to irrigation and any existing hardscape such as sidewalks and driveways. Will these features be part of the conversion plans or will they be removed?

Less Water Is More

In general, Xeriscaping means any low water-use landscape design that does not involve an expanse of grass accented by trees and shrubs. Xeriscaping can reduce water usage by 60% and less landscape water usage means more water is available for domestic and community use.

Yard design projects can be water-conserving, drought tolerant or simply “smart-scaping.” Normally, such projects focus on plant types that can be native or chosen because they are better suited to the local climate. A project layout may include contours designed to reduce runoff and evaporation.

Because its goal is water conservation through plant selection and runoff reduction, Xeriscaping is different from natural landscaping. Natural landscaping is focused on native plants such as trees, shrubs and groundcover while maintaining existing contours and features. By contrast, the term zero-scaping, when applied practically, is any low-water landscape that is without or nearly without any plants at all.

Plant Selection

When considering converting a traditional yard into a low-water landscape, a homeowner should first assess the existing plants and irrigation system. Landscape experts at the University of California recommend selecting yard plants that do well with less water, including those that establish deep roots for drought tolerance.

Likewise, remove high maintenance plants and those that are high water users. Plants with similar water use requirements should be grouped together and personal preferences for plant types should be considered.

Irrigate to Cultivate

Watering systems are vital to the success of any landscape project. Sprinklers offer the wide coverage needed for lawns and open areas. Inline drip systems work well for plant groupings and use less water.

When designing an inline drip system, lay out a grid for the area to be covered taking soil type into consideration.

Mulch Cuts Evaporation

Adding a ground cover of mulch is an important step in creating a low water use yard. A layer of mulch reduces water loss from evaporation, helps keep soil from baking in the sun and reduces runoff. Mulch also helps keep weeds from spreading and creates a tidy appearance.

Giving a front or back yard a makeover can reduce water use while enhancing enjoyment of time spent outdoors.

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