Minimal waste, Maximum Beauty
By Clara Beaufort for Flores Artscape
A beautiful yard is the greatest pride of many homeowners. Not only is it a lovely place to spend time in and an embellishment to your home, but it can actually make you happier and healthier. According to Reader’s Digest, the benefits of gardening include physical exercise, stress relief, a stronger immune system, and even improved cognitive skills. However, gardening and landscaping use large amounts of water, which is not very eco-friendly. So, how do we keep our beloved yards looking fresh and green while saving water?
Xeriscape landscaping, or simply xeriscaping, is a form of landscaping designed specifically for drought-prone areas. It is based on a few simple principles that maximize water efficiency in your yard without sacrificing beauty and aesthetic appeal.
For instance, you can grow local plants, or any other plants that are naturally suited to the dry climate. Despite what many people imagine, it’s not all cacti and succulents - although these can be very pretty. There are plenty of colorful, vibrant plants and flowers available that grow well with little water. You can also group your plants by their water needs, so you are only watering those that need it.
As well as choosing the right plants, xeriscaping involves taking care of your soil. An important part of this is mulching, or covering the soil around your plants with materials like tree bark, cocoa shells, and gravel. This creates a barrier that seals moisture into the soil, reducing the amount of watering you need to do.
Another key feature of xeriscaping is minimizing lawn grass, which is one of the least water-effective plants you can grow. You can replace your lawn grass with a variety of more eco-friendly options such as flowered ground coverings or ornamental grasses, which are designed to be aesthetically pleasing while requiring a fraction of the water.
You can also replace some parts of your lawn with paving or pebbles, and incorporate grass-free areas for sitting, playing, or dining into your landscape design. These can enhance the appearance of the yard without contributing to its water consumption needs.
Even if you don’t live in a particularly dry area, you should still make an effort to be environmentally friendly with your landscaping. One of the easiest ways to do this is to educate yourself on exactly how much water your plants are going to need, and limiting your watering to what’s essential.
One way to do this is by finding out your local evapotranspiration (ET) rate. This is the rate at which water from the soil is lost to evaporation, meaning the amount of moisture that you need to replace with watering. The Department of Energy recommends calling your local water district to ask about your ET rate so that you can better regulate the amount of water you use in your yard. Arizona-based campaign Water Use It Wisely also outlines several ways to practice efficient irrigation, such as using drip-irrigation systems and setting up a rainfall sensor that automatically deactivates your irrigation systems if it rains.
Being environmentally friendly with your landscaping doesn’t have to be difficult, and doesn’t have to make your yard ugly or boring. You just need to be creative with your layouts and arrangements in order to maximize aesthetics while minimizing water consumption. In a few weeks, you may even find that your yard comes out looking far prettier than if you had just left your water-guzzling expanse of green lawn as it was. Get your garden gloves on and start planting, mulching, and watering your way to a beautiful eco-friendly yard.
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