Want to save money on your water bills? Skip the extra watering and practice xeriscaping.
When summer rolls around, the unforgiving heat can bear down not just on you but also your garden. You don’t want to end up with a brown lawn or a garden full of dried vegetation, so you’ll probably resort to watering more often, which in turn punishes you with sky-high monthly bills. Before you resign yourself to paying more just to keep your garden green, think about xeriscaping.
Xeriscaping is a landscaping and gardening method that reduces the need for irrigation. It’s a technique mostly practiced in areas where water is scarce, but it’s something any household can do if they want to bring their water use down. Keeping in mind the seven principles of xeriscaping, here are a few tips on creating a water-efficient garden.
1. Smart garden planning
Create a draft of your garden’s current layout. Place similar types of plants together according to their maintenance and watering needs. For example, there are certain plants that need frequent watering, so grouping them will allow you to water them heavily without having to water the rest of your plants as often.
2. Plant choice
Select plants that have a high tolerance for drought or those that are native to your area and have therefore adapted to local climate conditions. When picking out plants, don’t just focus on how they look; make sure that you ask the seller which ones require limited irrigation and find out how often you need to water them.
3. Turf selection
Choosing the type of grass to grow on your lawn is important to ensure that your garden stays green even if you don’t water it constantly. Buffalo or carabao grass, for instance, can live with limited watering, while certain bluegrass varieties need more water to survive.
4. Efficient watering
Applying various techniques in watering your plants will not only help you save water but also avoid wasting it. One way of efficiently watering flowers and shrubs is using a spray or a drip line. Also, using rotary spray nozzles or gear-driven rotors on the grass will ensure that water is evenly distributed, and opting for variations that release big drops and have low angles will keep water from being blown away by the wind.
5. Soil choice and enhancement
It’s important that your soil and the plants you want to use complement each other. The soil should be adjusted to accommodate plant variety, or you need to choose plants that will live well in the kind of soil you have. You might also want to consider using compost, which helps the soil retain water.
Mulch has a lot of benefits, such as keeping plants at low temperature, which keeps the soil from crusting and minimizes water evaporation. Organic mulches (bark chips, wood grinding, etc.) are great in preventing soil erosion caused by rain or wind. You also can apply inorganic mulch (rocks, gravel, etc.), but rocks can cause heat build-up around the plants, so use with caution.
While xeriscaping lessens the need for watering, you do still need to care for your garden through regular weeding and grass-trimming. As long as the landscape is properly maintained, it will continue thriving on limited watering.
(Photos from sxc.hu and The Greenery Nursery/Flickr Creative Commons)