Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Water Wisdom

I know there are places where water flows in abundance. Where rain falls, and rivers run freely and Kentucky blue grass grows on the roadside. I, however, do not live in one of those places. Instead, I live in the West. The beautiful, desert-dry West.

Like mine, many cities in the country struggle every summer with drought.
Those lush, emerald green lawns that are the idyllic picture of suburban summers quickly become a parched brown by mid-July.
In fact, I recently learned from the oh-so-informative Sunset Magazine that up to 70% of the water Western households use goes to landscaping. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that water is a precious resource in a desert and shouldn’t be wasted.

Water Smart
So, when working on your landscape (or patio), consider the following to maximize the water:

* select plants that are appropriate for your climate. I wrote about this in greater detail earlier this week, so I’ll just restate the principle: if you live in a dry area, choose drought tolerant plants. They use less water and will flourish in hot sun.

* minimize your lawn based on your needs. My husband and I have selected to keep grass for both the front and back of our home mainly because of dogs and future kids, but we limited it to under half of our space. And we also selected a grass blend for the yard that is more tolerant of the sun and drought than typical bluegrass. (to see a great lawn-less yard, click here to read yesterday's post!)

* plant trees.
Trees are nature’s air conditioning, and provide shelter from the sun for plants and grass below.

* water wisely.
Always, always water your lawn in the early morning or late evening, after the sun has set, to prevent unnecessary evaporation. And consider installing a drip line for your trees, shrubs and garden as they deliver water more effectively than sprinklers.

* mulch. Surrounding your plants with mulch or bark helps retain moisture at the soil level. And yes, you have to replace it year by year, which can be a pain. But it is worth the benefit of water conservation.

Spread it Around
In sum, most of the time when we plan for the plants in our lives, we are free to choose what we like without having to think much about the preferences of others. But when it comes to landscapes, our personal choices do affect the whole community. So, be wise and spread the water around.

Previous Related Posts:
Oogling Outdoor Spaces
Get in the Zone: knowing which plants to choose
Taking my Design Obsession Outside
**visit Retro Summer's webpage!**

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