When you're an environmentally conscious homeowner, maintaining a water-hungry lawn feels hypocritical. But how are you supposed to keep your lawn looking good during long, hot summers without heavy watering? Fortunately, there are many eco-friendly changes you can make to your landscaping so it can remain beautiful with minimal amounts of water. That way, you can feel good about your impact on the environment and love your yard too!
Limit Your Lawn Areas
You don't have to completely remove grass areas from your landscaping to be water-conscious, you just have to reduce the size of them. Plan to landscape your yard by strategically placing turfgrass only where it has a practical function, such as for children's play or family picnics. For the rest of your yard, use plants, stonework, mosses, and pathways to create an elegant and functional garden space. Areas with turf or shrubs that require heavier water should be grouped together so you can avoid overwatering other plants. While landscaping, make sure you protect your hands from scratches and bacteria with some quality gardening gloves.
Set Up an Effective Watering System
Did you know that deep, infrequent watering is best for plants and lawns? This type of watering system will deliver water deep into the earth, encouraging the roots of plants to grow down where they're less susceptible to dry periods. This will also help your plants grow stronger and healthier. When you water frequently, the roots of plants will grow shallow and close to the surface of the ground, allowing them to dry out more quickly.
Though sprinklers are often used on lawns, they aren't the best for garden set-ups. Drip irrigation systems can deliver water more directly to the base of plants so you aren't losing a lot of water to evaporation. Also, make sure you water in the early morning before the heat of the day causes excessive evaporation. Another good way to prevent evaporation and keep moisture in the soil after watering is to mulch your gardens.
Use Native Plants That Thrive Naturally
When picking up plants for your landscaping, make sure you stick to native plants. These are naturally prepared to survive and thrive in your climate. National Geographic recommends avoiding tropical and exotic plants since these have very high water requirements. Also, avoid annuals that only live during one season because these have shallow root systems and use high amounts of energy in a short amount of time. When it comes to your turf areas, seek out drought-tolerant varieties such as buffalo grass or centipede grass. These grasses are also slow-growing, meaning you won't have to mow them as often.
Eco-friendly doesn't just mean low-water usage; instead, it reduces the chemicals you introduce to the environment. Attracting birds to your garden with bird feeders and bird baths will help you cut down on pests like snails, slugs, and caterpillars without using harmful insecticides. Companion planting is useful for boosting the growth and vitality of your veggies and flowers without chemical fertilizers. When it comes to planting an eco-friendly garden, Earth911 stresses the importance of supporting biodiversity. Native insects, such as ladybugs, eat pests that are harmful to plants and invasive species that can wreak havoc on our ecosystem. Finally, try to use your kitchen compost on your vegetable gardens.
Try Planting a Rain Garden
A rain garden is a garden of plants, shrubs, and flowers in a shallow depression in the ground designed to hold and soak up rainwater. These are typically used to soak up runoff from roofs, driveways, lawns, or patios and is a great way to remove contaminants or chemicals from the water. They also allow for more water to soak into the ground than traditional lawns, preventing contaminated water from entering storm drains and finding its way to streams and ponds. Just because you want to be water-conscious doesn't mean you have to have a dry and unattractive lawn. In fact, eco-friendly landscaping can be even more eye-catching than the typical blanket of grass that many homeowners sport on their property. Not only will you enjoy digging around and designing your new yard, but you'll also feel good about the positive impact you'll have on the environment.