Today we’re presenting to you our Top 5 Tips for a More Drought Tolerant Landscape! June is Grass Removal Month here at North Park Nursery (sign up for our free workshop if you haven’t yet) and we’re focusing on ways to make your landscape more water efficient. Here are five ways you can approach your landscaping, no matter what style, to achieve the beautiful, functional, low-maintenance and drought resistant yard of your dreams!
1. Use non-plant material in creative ways!
By simply reducing the planting area, you reduce the amount of plants that need to be watered! But don’t fret about boring, bare soil – there are lots of creative ways to use material like stone and wood. Use flagstone pavers to create an outdoor patio or path. Pour a small concrete pad for a firepit or seating area. Use wood to build a deck, or river rock to create the look of a dry riverbed!
2. Use mulch to retain moisture
Bare soil – especially the hard, dry clay we have in Southern California – is notoriously poor at holding on to water. Use a mulch in your planting beds to maximize the effectiveness of what water you do use. What type of mulch you choose depends on your situation and preferences. An organic mulch like bark reduces the evaporation of water and keeps the soil moist and cool, but can sometimes be messy and needs replacing over time. Stone mulch has a clean look and lasts forever, but can hold a lot of heat and moisture that damages plant roots and trunks – for this reason, always be sure to leave a ring of bare soil around the base of plants.
3. Select drought tolerant plants
Another obvious decision is to select drought tolerant plants. This often includes succulents, California natives and Mediterranean plants. Keep in mind that just because a plant is “drought tolerant” doesn’t mean it’s boring – there are lots of beautiful, low-water use plants with gorgeous, lush leaves and lots of bright blooms! Just about any kind of plant you might be looking for can be found in a species that doesn’t require too much water. There are even drought tolerant grass varieties that are very heat tolerant and require minimal watering!
4. Reevaluate your irrigation choices
This is a critical step that often goes overlooked. Watering your yard with overhead or portable sprinklers is one of the most wasteful methods of irrigation – it is hard to deliver water accurately, and much is lost to wind or runoff. Consider switching some or all of your irrigation system to a series of drip emitters, which place the exact right amount of water at the base of each plant, ensuring no waste, or a product like Netafim, which features long, porous tubes that can be run under lawns and water your grass more efficiently, at the roots!
5. Water more effectively
Beyond simply choosing the method of irrigation, it’s also important to consider when and how you water your plants. It is best to water plants in the early morning or just before dusk, when the air is coolest. This means the maximum amount of water can penetrate the soil before being evaporated (where it will be safe) but plants will have enough sunlight to continue photosynthesis. Similarly, water for long periods of time at long intervals. It is better to let a dripper head run for 30 minutes every other day than 15 minutes three times a day. Just a few extra minutes will allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil where roots have access to it and sun can’t evaporate it. Applying shallow, infrequent water results in waste. Also remember when watering with a hose or watering can, to water at the base of the plant and not shower the foliage. This also avoids waste, as a plant doesn’t absorb any water through it’s leaves.
And there you have it! What are you doing to make your yard more water efficient? And keep in mind, our friends at Mooch Exterior Designs are here to help you with your lawn conversion, irrigation installation, hardscape, landscape and more!