Planning Your Landscape for Average Precipitation

R. L. Rhodes
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So you live in that Goldilocks zone between drought and deluge, where the yearly average serves up just enough precipitation to make maintaining a healthy garden or landscape a breeze, relatively speaking. Does that mean you should rest on your laurels, congratulating yourself on your climatic good fortune?

Hardly! Even homeowners in climates with average levels of rainfall can save money and contribute to their environment by conserving water whenever possible.

Use the following tips to chart the course for wise water usage across the whole growing season.

  • Average precipitation doesn’t necessarily mean consistent precipitation, and you may need to irrigate during the lulls. Installing an irrigation system can make it easier to usher your landscape through the occasional dry period.
  • For a more gradual, regulated approach to irrigating gardens and shrubs, consider replacing your sprinklers with a drip irrigation system that delivers small amounts of water directly to the base of plants.
  • Stormwater runoff not only deprives your plants of the water they’ve got coming to them, but can also wash soil, fertilizer and household chemicals into the local water supply. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of stormwater that escapes your landscape and finds its way into local reservoirs. See our article on stormwater runoff for ideas.
  • Impermeable surfaces like paved paths and driveways can usher water out into the streets, rather than into your soil. You can catch some portion of that water by installing runoff trenches alongside the hardscaping in your landscape. That gives your soil time to absorb it, directing the water to the roots of your plants, where it’s needed.
  • Even your lawn can become a virtually impermeable surface if the soil gets compacted.┬áIf you see water wicking off the surface of your lawn, check to make sure the soil hasn’t grown dense and hard, like a tennis court. Core aeration will let your lawn breathe easier, the better to absorb rainfall when it comes.

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