Water-conscious garden design is important for anyone who wants to keep a green garden in California. It’s easier than you think, too! Below I’ve laid out my top 10 tips for living a water-friendly lifestyle.
TOP TEN TIPS
1. Be conscientious with your sprinklers
Staying on top of your irrigation is always important, but it’s crucial in a drought. Overwatering is unnecessary, and easy to avoid. 30% of the average American family’s water use is devoted to lawns and gardens, so turning the sprinklers off when it rains can really add up quickly. When it isn’t raining, water in the early hours of the morning to reduce evaporation. If you see water runoff, split your watering times into two sessions to allow for effective absorption.
2. Catch rainwater and air conditioner condensation with stylish rain catcher planters
There are so many stylish rain catchers now, that double as storage tanks and planters! They have thought of everything – spigots make it easy to attach a watering hose, and the back is usually flat to maximize space if you’re placing the catcher against a wall (think: next to the air conditioner to catch condensation.) Here is a charming 65-gallon product that I love. You could be harvesting rainwater all over the yard without anyone ever knowing it!
3. Replace portions of grass with gravel
Remove portions of your grass and install gravel or decomposed granite, surrounded by shade canopy trees. The design possibilities with this additional outdoor entertaining space are endless! Create a gravel sitting area with tables and chairs, or turn a blank canvas into a relaxing retreat with benches, pillows and throws. With your feet up and a margarita in hand, you won’t miss grass at all.
4. Plant drought-tolerant items such as rosemary, lavender and Little Ollie shrubs
Contrary to popular belief, succulents aren’t the only plants that are drought-tolerant. Fragrant herbs like rosemary and lavender are not only beautiful, but extremely water-conscious! For fantastic border plants, Little Ollie shrubs are a compact-growing and clean shrub that requires very little attention or water. Also, instead of throwing them away, move all of your water-consuming plants to pots, and use greywater and stored rainwater to keep them alive and well. I can’t think of a better reward for conserving water than seeing your favorite guilty-pleasure plants thrive! What great motivation to stick with it!
5. Add a rain gutter catch basin to your rain gutters
Add a rain gutter catch basin to your rain gutters, redirecting rainwater to a drought-tolerant herb garden or storage tank. There are very discreet underwater storage tanks that hold quite a bit of water, and are completely out of sight. There are also slim, wall-mounted tanks that can run alongside walls and fences. Attach a hose, and water your yard with pride knowing that you are doing something great for the world.
6. Keep a pitcher or bucket by the sink, and collect greywater to keep potted plants looking bright
There’s no need to get rid of your favorite potted plants, if you work a little harder for the water needed to irrigate them! It’s surprising how much greywater we produce without realizing it. To see what I mean, keep a pitcher or bucket by the kitchen sink (or better yet – every sink in the house), and collect excess water over just one day. Save the water that usually goes the drain while you wait for the faucet to warm up, and add the water used to rinse fruit and vegetables. Even water leftover in drinking glasses and water bottles can be collected. At the end of the day, you’ll feel so accomplished giving this saved, repurposed water back to Mother Earth, that you’ll want to continue your crusade! And, you can keep your favorite potted plants looking beautiful, minus the guilt!
7. Add mulch around trees and plants
Mulch discourages weed growth, minimizes water runoff, and retains moisture. Adding a few inches of compost or mulch around trees and plants will help slow the evaporation of moisture, and give your garden plenty of time to take a long drink of water! Mix mulch with all of your soil to encourage moisture retention in the entire yard!
8. Install a drip irrigation system
Drip irrigation systems are far more effective at watering the garden than sprinklers, with little to no water loss from runoff or evaporation. Drip irrigation systems can be installed anywhere from large yards to individual planters. You have total control over the amount of water supplied to each designated area, and it works wonderfully with mulched areas, thoroughly soaking the moisture-retaining mulch without getting any runoff.
9. Install solar-powered water fountains that operate on greywater
You don’t have to allow your beautiful fountains to dry up just because we’re in a drought! Route one or more of your rain gutters to drain directly into your fountains, and surround them with herbs and drought-tolerant plants. The fountains will run on the recycled water, and any excess that spills over will drain into the herbs and plants. Opt for fountains without jets, which lose the most amount of water. For an extra shot of being good to the planet, make all of your fountains solar-powered!
10. Make sure your home’s faucets, pipes and hoses aren’t leaking
Even if your entire garden is drought-tolerant, if you have a leaking pipe or hose, you’re wasting water. A great way to check for leaks is to check your water meter at the beginning of a two-hour window of no water use, and then check again at the end of the two hours. If the number is different, you have a leak.
Taking care of MOTHER EARTH, one step at a time!