A beautiful, drought-tolerant garden that saves money and the environment can be yours by spring. All it takes is four water-wise steps.
Four Rules for a Water-Wise Garden MakeOver:
Step 1: Design a layout. Work with what you’ve got and start by drawing a map of your property. Measure the garden area and sketch out your new plot. Many drought-tolerant plants require full sun, so make sure to mark the spots that receive the most light. Finally, list your landscaping goals to help you determine which plants to use.
Step 2: Select native and low-water plants. Once you’ve got the basics, it’s time to pick your plants. Choose plants suited for your area and hardiness zone. Ask your Garden Center associate for help.
Native plants require little water, help reduce water runoff and absorb rainfall much better than lawns. Perennials, which live for multiple seasons, are the best choice for a drought-tolerant garden since the roots become stronger over time.
Add the plants to your sketch. Place taller plants toward the rear of the garden and shorter ones toward the front. Crowded plants tend to fight for resources, so make sure there is enough room for all plants to grow properly.
Group plants with similar needs together. Finally, add borders to create garden rooms.
Step 3: Use water wisely. Strong, healthy plants start from the ground up. Test your soil using a basic soil test kit or send a sample to your county extension service.
Sandy soil is not ideal, as water will drain too quickly for the plants to absorb it. Adding compost and mulch over soil and around plants keeps soil moist. Amend as needed.
Outline your drip irrigation system and install a timer. Drip irrigation is an efficient way to save water and time. Schedule the timer for early morning to reduce evaporation.
Step 4: Conserve using a ground cover. Ground covers generally need little care and spread easily, so make sure to include them in your sketch. Low-growing plants work well as a transition if you like grass but want a more eco-friendly yard.
Mulch, rocks and decomposed granite are other forms of permeable ground cover and help rainfall percolate easily into the soil. Mulch doubles as a weed deterrent and conserves water.