Are you concerned with saving water this summer? Not only is water essential to life (for you and your plants), but saving more water can also save on your bills.
In the heat of summer, there’s nothing better than a cold drink and a soothing breeze in a beautiful, manicured yard. To get the most from your home’s exterior without being wasteful, you want to make sure you’re not using too much water to keep up the maintenance.
Don’t worry, you can do your bit for the environment without losing your little patch of heaven! Read on for these water-efficient landscaping tips to get you through the hot months to come.
As every Orange County homeowner knows, it takes planning and dedication to maintain a lush garden in Southern California. For the sake of mother nature and your utility bills, it helps to make a conscious effort to save water as you plan your home’s exterior.
In addition to selection and arrangements, your landscaping plan should take into consideration things like:
– regional/microclimatic conditions of your yard
– use of property
– current vegetation and landscaping
For best results, you should also group your current plants by their water needs, sun/shade requirements and preferred soil conditions.
This information will vary because each yard is different. Once you’ve done the research and taken your notes, you can start to put a plan together to meet the needs of your yard.
Consider preserving any plants that are already thriving in your yard. Since they’re already acclimatized, see if you can incorporate them into your design. These plants are most likely to perform well in your soil and local environment.
If you don’t like their current location, you can move plants to sit in designated beds or spread them out as you desire. A lot of native plants in Orange County are beautiful to look at and will mix in with any flora design that you have your heart set on.
For some plants, you can see signs that they’re able to withstand dry, drought conditions. Look for plants that have “hairy” leaves — they have them to reduce evaporation. Think of the leaves that Lamb’s Ear plants have.
Another great option are succulents. Succulents have juicy, fat leaves that specialize in the storage of water. Remember that any plant you put into the ground needs watering for the first 1-2 years. Even if they’re tolerant of droughts, they still need to establish themselves. When you purchase new plants, make sure you do the research on how much water they need to get started.
No matter the climate, every yard needs a healthy soil foundation to thrive. This is why you should check your soil before starting your improvements. Basic tests will tell you if your soils are acidic, alkaline or neutral.
Once you know your soil type, you can then work on adjusting the pH levels to what you need. Most local garden centers will offer testing kits and can help you make the adjustments.
If you want to preserve the moisture in your soil, then applying mulch is the best thing you can do. Mulch prevents evaporation and makes a better environment to encourage root growth.
You’ll want to apply a layer of organic mulch around 2-3 inches deep. Organic mulches you can choose include chopped leaves, pine straw and shredded bulk.
Mulch also helps to prevent weeds from taking over. The more weeds growing, the more competition there is for soil moisture. As mulch decomposes, it additionally improves the soil to help boost its water absorption. This is a big bonus when it comes to summer landscaping.
Grassy turf can be a great addition to add color and appeal to your landscape, and it’s nice to dig your toes in on a sunny day. However, drought can cause devastation to its growth cycle. So, if you want a lush lawn, you need to have a plan about where you’ll plant it and how it’s watered.
Play areas and recreation spaces are popular spaces to install turf, since it’s safer and more comfortable than dirt or mulch. But grass takes a lot of water, so keep these areas smaller, if possible. This will increase your water efficiency, reduce runoff and lower overall evaporation.
Some grass species cope with drought better than others. If you prefer not to constantly water your lawn, pick a grass type that goes dormant in extreme conditions and springs back to life when rains return.
In such low-moisture areas as Southern California, it can help to get creative with how you source your water. You can collect rain and dew with tanks and barrels to capture what nature already provides. When it rains, a barrel beneath your gutters can capture a large amount of runoff from your roof.
These water collection barrels have a hole in the top for water to flow in. They then have an on/off tap at the bottom where you can place your watering can.
You can buy them ready-made, or you can make one yourself. Check with your local environmental/water agencies who may offer classes or instruction manuals on the subject.
If you create a water collection system, make sure to cover the intake hole with mesh to stop debris and mosquitoes from entering. Keep the barrel elevated too, as this will make it easier to fill your watering devices.
To encourage strong root growth in drought conditions, your plants still need water! How much water is required depends on your soil type, plant species, topography and other factors.
Whatever you do, check your local water restrictions and abide by them. Example water restrictions might include:Watering only from 8 pm to 10 am
– Only allowing irrigation to run for 15 minutes max
– Exceptions for drip irrigation and low-pressure sprinklers
– Nozzles on hoses for manual watering
– Watering only allowed 3 days a week
– Alternating watering days between even- and odd-numbered houses
Before you invest time, money and a boatload of water, it’s important to know your local water restrictions. When you know these in advance, you’ll be able to plan around them without sacrificing the condition of your yard.
Another of the best summer landscaping tips is to use a drip or soaker hose. A soaker hose has little holes along the length of it. This lets water seep out of it at a slow pace over time. Drip irrigation is another slow method of watering that’s more efficient.
In both cases, efficiency is higher because the water gets right into the roots. Watering above the plants coats their upper portions in water while providing less to the roots right away. Also, the spray from water falling can be wasteful, and you don’t want to be the bad neighbor who wastes water!
Now you know these top summer landscaping tips, you’re in great shape to make a plan and start saving water this summer.
To recap: Know your local water restrictions and always follow them. Use native plants and plants that thrive in dry conditions, if possible. Work with what nature gives you, and your local environment. The best landscaping designs always tie in the home and the yard environment in one cohesive look. This will provide you with a beautiful yard, even in the driest of summer months.
If you’re looking to find your perfect patch of Californian heaven, contact us today. At the Stavros Group, we’re always happy to help you make a plan to reach your real estate goals.