Plant More, Water Less

Drought Resistent Garden

(Image Source: Farallongardens.blogspot.com)

When my husband and I first moved from our home state of Iowa to Arizona, we were quickly introduced to “drought-resistant gardening” which involves planting native plant species that are designed to withstand long stretches of time without rainfall. Side note: instead of grass, we had gravel yards and AstroTurf! Needless to say, at certain times of the year it was too hot to walk barefoot in our own yard.

A few years later we’d decided we wanted to escape the heat and dust and venture to Colorado where we can have all of our seasons again. You’d be surprised by how much you start to miss thunderstorms when literally every day is blue sky and sunshine! We were a little more equipped to handle our landscaping this time, having already endured 3.5 years of Southwestern climate, trials and failures in our planting endeavors, and a few successes among the most hearty of planted species. Here in Colorado however, there are far more plant species equipped to handle the region’s weather pattern.

As I started my studies about the environment, I found several research papers and articles discussing the importance of sustainable landscaping in the Southwest. Did you know that the average American family uses about 48 gallons of water each day specifically for outdoor landscaping (EPA 2016)? Now visualize 48 gallon water jugs sitting on the floor of your living room. That’s a lot of water! Nationally, landscaping and gardening account for about 1/3 of all residential water consumption (EPA 2016). That’s just crazy! To make matters worse, experts have found that our watering methods only have about a 50% efficiency rate (EPA 2016). That means that we’re wasting half of the water we’re consuming on landscaping! Fortunately, there are steps each of us can take to cut WAY down on water use and inefficiencies.Drought Resistent Crops 1

(Image Source: EPA 2016)

  1. The EPA recommends avoiding watering lawns every day. Instead, a simple test can determine whether or not the grass needs water by stepping on a patch of grass and watching to see if the grass springs back. If not, it needs watering. Pretty easy, right
  2. Search for drought-resistant crops / plants in your region, or visit your favorite garden shop to talk with an expert about which species are both drought tolerant and fulfill your plant needs.
  3. Look into the EPA’s new irrigation program, WaterSense, which is really amazing. It’s similar to a thermostat, but it assesses local weather conditions to determine how much water to use, and when your landscaping needs it. Though it may require a financial investment, consider the fact that this program, on average, reduces households’ water consumption by more than 9,000 gallons per year, which will save you lots of dough (EPA 2016)!

DROUGHT-RESISTANT GRASSES, PLANTS AND FLOWERS

When I first moved to Colorado, I had no idea that drought-resistant grass even existed. But it does, and it’s amazing – seriously. The first perk to planting drought-resistant grass species is that it grows super slow. In fact, it reduces households’ and businesses’ needs to mow the lawn by nearly 75%, and on average, only requires a once-per-month trim (Renewable Planet 2015). On top of that, consider the fact that by mowing so much less, you’ll reduce the volume of toxic fuel emissions derived from the mower that enter the atmosphere, AND you’ll save big on fuel costs (Renewable Planet 2015)If you want to take things a step further, you can toss your mower altogether and opt for a reel-mower (old school push mower) instead. These mowers fuel-less, and have the added bonus of forcing you into a more intense landscaping workout.

For a great list of drought-resistant plant species to use in your gardening or landscaping project in Colorado (and most of the Southwest), check out:

www.lot-lines.com/the-20-best-xeriscape-plants-for-colorado

Image Sources:

EPA. 2016. “WaterSense.” Outdoor Water Use in the U.S. Last updated May 16, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2016. https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/outdoor.html.

McGrath, Mathew. 2014. “Alameda Drought Tolerant Garden: February Blooms!” Farallon Gardens. Last updated in 2014. Accessed May 19, 2016. http://farallongardens.blogspot.com/2014/03/alameda-drought-tolerant-garden_2714.html.

General Sources:

EPA. 2016. “WaterSense.” Outdoor Water Use in the U.S. Last updated May 16, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2016. https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/outdoor.html.

Renewable Planet. 2015. “Drought-Resistant Plants.” Renewable Planet. Last updated in 2015. Accessed May 19, 2016. www.therenewableplanet.com/green-building/green-buildingmaterials/drought-resistant-plants.aspx.

 

 

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