If you’re looking to reduce your water consumption, there’s no better place to start than your own yard. Whether you’re planting annuals or putting in new shrubs and trees, there are plenty of drought-tolerant gardening tips you can follow to create a beautiful garden with less water.
Drought-Tolerant Plants for the Garden
The best plants for low-water gardens are xeric plants (from the Greek word meaning dry) which are hardy and do well in dry climates. These plants have developed over time to be drought tolerant and use less water than traditional garden varieties.
Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’
Pacific Wax Myrtle
Sweet Potato Vine
Another option is drought-tolerant ground covers like creeping thyme or purple sage. These types of plants will not only make your garden look lovely but will help conserve water as well!
These plants will still need to be watered during dry spells for the first year or two until they become established. Once established, these water-thrifty plants will save you time.
Keep your soil in check with mulch
Compost and mulch are two of the easiest ways to retain moisture in your garden. A layer of mulch can cut down on water consumption by up to 50%. Compost is also an excellent addition to any soil because it will increase the amount of organic matter present in the soil. Organic matter increases the water-holding capacity of soils and improves nutrient availability. These two materials will both help you create a beautiful garden that won’t need much watering!
Plant closer together
Plant trees and shrubs closer together to provide shade and reduce the need for watering. Put large plants in the center of your garden, or place small plants around them to offer them some protection from strong winds.
Use Stones for Visual Interest
Using stones is one way to add interest to your garden. Stones are natural materials that are found in nature and can be used as focal points in your landscaping. They can also be used to create paths throughout the garden as well as act as barriers and even create shade around plants that need to be protected from the sun.
Dry Creek Beds
You may want to consider adding a dry creek bed to your drought-tolerant landscape. A dry creek bed is a type of garden design that mimics the natural environment by including rock or gravel as pathways and raised beds where plants can be planted.
Install a Water Feature
Installing a fountain in your drought-tolerant garden can actually help reduce water consumption. Typically fountains use about 3 gallons of water per hour. A typical backyard fountain can use up to 300 gallons of water per day. If you are using an electric pump then the cost is more as well. An aerating fountain only uses 3-5 gallons of water per hour. This type of fountain recycles the same amount of water over and over again without ever recharging the reservoir tank with new water.
Landscape Drainage Solutions to Help Problem Areas
We get our fair share of rain in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s not uncommon to have some landscape drainage issues. Adding a rain garden or a dry creek bed are great drainage solutions that can even enhance the look of your landscape.
Water drainage problems in your yard decrease property value and can lead to costly water damage to your house and other structures, as well as plant and turf damage. With a little planning, you can alleviate your drainage issues to protect not only your yard but also your home.
How to Check Your Yard for Drainage Issues
Pay attention to where the trouble spots are in your yard. Are there slopes that could be leveled out, mulched, or other materials added for draining? Is there an area with runoff from the driveway or gutters?
To get a rough idea of where the problems lie, take advantage of heavy rains to watch what happens to the water. Does it gush from the gutter and flood your flower bed or pool below your deck? Is there an area in your yard that becomes a swamp – or that remains swampy all year? Lawns and plants will die and/or become susceptible to disease and pest problems if they’re not able to dry out.
Does water run across the driveway or into the street during a hard rain or, worse yet, soak areas around your home’s foundation? In some cases, the grade was not established correctly and did not take into account that the ground should slope down and away from the house.
Level a sloping yard. To avoid incoming water, the ground should always slope away from your home in all directions. Locate the high and low points of your home and use extra soil to slope the yard away from your house. Melting snow and rain will flow away from your home.
Landscape Drainage Solutions
Choose native plants that prevent flooding in your yard. Native plants can help to prevent soil erosion while also allowing rainwater to drain more efficiently. Some selections for our area are Slough Sedge, Western Columbine, and Pacific Ninebark.
Using mulch in your garden can prevent water from flowing toward your home. In garden areas, grade away from your home and fill with a few inches of mulch. This will help keep soil in place and hold in rainwater. If mulching near your home, make sure the mulch is at least six inches from your siding to avoid moisture wicking and rotting of your home’s exterior.
Consider planting a rain garden. Rain gardens are the perfect solution for curbing erosion and improving water quality. They collect rainwater and water that runs from your gutters and downspouts, creating runoff and filtering it away from your house. They are often created in shallow, landscaped depressions, which helps to naturally absorb rainwater in the ground.
Dry Creek Bed
Install a dry creek bed to provide attractive and functional relief, especially if your landscape has standing water.
Dry creek beds are an excellent choice for addressing places in the landscape that are hard-hit by heavy rains. While a flat place in the yard may benefit more from a simple lawn drain, gradients and hillsides need the water capacity and speed that a dry creek bed can provide during extreme conditions. This drainage solution can be a nice addition to the look of your landscape by using different-sized rocks, boulders, and plantings.
French drains are the most commonly used means of collecting, conducting, and discharging water. This is a trench filled with gravel, sand, or rock (depending on application) and containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water and groundwater away from an area. The perforated (“weeping”) pipe also allows small amounts to seep into the ground along the way.
Frontier Landscaping offers landscape drainage services. We have years of experience with designing and implementing features that effectively carry water away from problem areas. Our expert installation team will determine the best place to collect excess water, the best method and route to conduct it, and an appropriate discharge point. We do the clean-up, too! Give us a call today!
The crisp fall mornings remind us that the hard-working summer garden has earned its winter rest. Sweeping the front walk and gathering leaves is a quiet exercise in mindfulness, and lets us gather our thoughts for the season ahead. Even though we enjoy our mild weather late into November, we can get occasional freezes and should clear out the irrigation system to prevent cracked pipes. As Halloween nears, ensuring you have a well-lit paths and driveways will make a cheerful and safe approach. And don’t forget to do some minor pruning to remove any broken branches or those that crowd and cover paths. These simple landscaping reminders for fall will ensure you have a problem-free winter.
Winterizing irrigation is quick and easy
We’re lucky here in the Vancouver area to enjoy long stretches of cool, autumn weather, and we typically don’t get the long hard freezes that cause problems. However, it’s always wise to unhook your hoses from the faucets, and add a little extra insulation to any pipes that are exposed. Bring any tender plants in pots up to the porch for extra protection, and buy a bale of hay for extra insulation in the garden.
Plan on shutting down your irrigation system. Even if you drain out your sprinklers, some water remains and can still freeze and crack your pipes, causing costly and unsightly repairs. To minimize your risk, call a professional to blow out any remaining water using the right-sized equipment. We schedule sprinkler winterization from October through early December, but now is a great time to get us on your calendar.
Throw some light on it
It’s also the perfect time to check on your outdoor lighting. Make sure paths are clear and well lit to greet you when you come home from work, and are safe when you have an armload of groceries. For convenience and to save energy, flood lights should be set to come on automatically when you arrive. Properly designed lighting colors and intensity give your home a cheerful welcome. Using LED lighting for landscaping makes sense, saving energy, and lasting longer than traditional lights. October is also a great time for stargazing, so a lighting expert can help you determine how to highlight only the areas you need to be safe without being overly bright.
Fall Maintenance Pruning
All the tips for Summer Tree Care still hold true – cut back shrubs after blooming, and prune fruit trees when they become dormant because it’s easier to see where to prune when the leaves drop. Unfortunately, we’ve also had a prolonged period of drought, so you may have had some branch die-back on a variety of trees and shrubs on your property. Now is a good time to have a Tree Hazard Risk assessment done before the winter storms come. We’ll look for damaged and overhanging branches, weak branch-joins, and insect or fungal diseases that impact the health of your trees. Selective pruning can also open the canopy and make trees more resilient to winter storms. Get an expert to assess your landscape before it becomes a bigger problem.
Frontier Landscaping provides exceptional customer service. Schedule an appointment with our seasoned and reliable crew today.