With a Mediterranean climate, the Bay Area enjoys cool, wet winters and suffers from summer droughts. Therefore, it’s important that people in this area use drought-tolerant plants in their landscape, in addition to employing efficient irrigation and water-saving methods. Here are some tips that will help you design a landscape that conserves water:
- Plan it in advance and maintain it – The trick to save water in your landscape is not to skimp plantation, but to use native and drought-tolerant plants. Consider dividing the yard into several zones and put plants in each zone with similar water needs. Remember to consider both the regional climate and microclimate to ensure that the zoning of plants is done properly. This will help you to avoid water wastage, apart from ensuring that every plant gets the required sunlight. For instance, irrigation is required in the low water use zone only when you add a new plant there. Again, plants in the moderate water use zone need more water than what is naturally provided. Finally, consider adding the thirstiest plants in the high water use zone. You may consider cutting back on the size of such plants, if possible, as this will help reduce water use.
- Keep a note of the soil in your landscape – Understanding the type of soil is important as this will help you to determine efficient watering practices. The three main particles that make up different combinations of soil are clay, sand and silt. Sand particles are the largest ones, while the clay particles are the smallest ones. Silt particles are of the medium size. Sandy soils get drained quicker and you need to water them more frequently. On the other hand, clay soils take more time to saturate and don't need frequent watering. Don't forget to enhance the soil quality at regular intervals as this will ensure better absorption of water and promote deeper roots.
- Water the plants properly – While watering the plants, you need to keep certain factors in mind. Consider watering all the plants deeply as this leads to deeper roots and also helps create a larger soil reservoir from which the plants can draw moisture, whenever required. Generally, you should water a lawn to a depth of about six to eight inches. Perennials and annuals should be watered to a depth of about twelve to eighteen inches. Watering to a depth of 2 to 3 feet is advisable for trees, whereas shrubs require watering up to a depth of twelve to thirty inches.
- Use mulches: By using mulches, you will prevent soil from crusting, ensure that the plant roots are cool, and let your landscape enjoy reduced evaporation and decreased weed growth.
- Take the necessary measures – Although there are certain basic rules of watering to follow, you should make necessary changes in the watering regime, as and when needed. Consider checking the water penetration by probing the soil with a metal rod or a stiff wire. If the soil is adequately moist, you can easily move the stick. However, if it is dry, it will be difficult for you to move the stick. Also, make it a point to adjust the watering schedule according to the seasonal changes.
- Maintain the landscape: You can conserve water when your plants and the turf are healthy. Therefore, opt for regular pruning, weeding, fertilizing and pest controlling measures to ensure that your landscape and the plants are healthy.
Use these water-conserving landscaping approaches to conserve energy as well as water.