Water saving isn’t just a wise idea for the planet. It’s also a wise idea for your budget and peace of mind. If you don’t have to spend time and money pouring water into your landscaping, you have more time to enjoy it and more money to invest in it (or anywhere else). Many people worry that changing their landscaping to preserve water will negatively impact their property value or their enjoyment of the space. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are seven water saving landscaping ideas that will heighten your enjoyment of the property, not limit it.
1. Add Mature or Fast-Growing Trees
One of the best things to retain moisture in your lawn or other landscaping is to give it some shade with mature trees. This will prevent water from evaporating as quickly from the ground, which means you don’t have to use as much when watering. This can benefit you in other ways,too, as shading your space can make it cooler. Consider transplanting mature trees. It can be an expense, but the results are incredible.
2. Consider Colorful, Great-Smelling Mulch
Mulch is another great way to help the soil retain water. Don’t get just any mulch though, consider dyed or natural cedar mulch to get the best smell. And, consider matching your mulch color to the overall aesthetic you have for your garden. Brown mulch is great for natural spaces. Black mulch is great for modern spaces.
3. Install Better Irrigation Methods
Sometimes using less water is all about strategy. If you can use drip irrigation, it can deliver water exactly to the roots of certain plants, including trees and high-feeder plants. That way, these plants get the water they need without wasting water on other plants or to evaporation. So, you can go easier on watering those plants nearby.
That’s not the only irrigation change that you can make to save water. Many irrigation systems overlap or use less than efficient schedules and sprinkler heads. A professional can help you make sure that you have the most effective set-up for saving water.
4. Add Practical Hardscaping
Hardscaping is any landscape feature that is built into the landscape and is “hard,” such as pavers, wood, and metal, instead of “soft” like plants. Hardscaping elements do not require watering, of course, so they can help you limit the amount of water you need to keep the yard beautiful. Plus, hardscaping elements are practical and beautiful. Consider a patio, outdoor kitchen, defined pathway, a bocce ball court or another hardscaping feature.
5. Build an Arbor, Gazebo, or Trellis
As with the trees, these three features are all about maximizing shade, to make your landscaping retain more water even under the harshest suns. Sure, you can add more plants into the trellis, but vines typically do not have high water needs. So, they are a great way to add a ton of green without increasing your water needs. As a bonus, arbors, gazebos and trellises also create some shaded space for you to sit.
6. Use Native Plants
The plant that evolved in Northern California are naturally best adapted to the conditions we have here. They will use less water than plants that adapted to rainier conditions. And, while not all of our native plants will make for a pretty addition to your garden, many will. Here are some options that will feel like pleasant discoveries, instead of plants that you settle for because they have low water needs:
- Lupine: These gorgeous flowers can handle drought, and will consistently bloom for months at a time, so they keep providing color.
- White Sage: If you want to reduce your water use and support the bee population, white sage is a great choice. These tall flowers are favored by bees.
- California Mountain Lilac: If you wish you could grow lilac, but aren’t interested in nursing it through droughts, this native is a great option. It’s somewhat smaller and darker flowers are still very beautiful and it will produce a lot of them.
- Pipestem Clematis: Other varieties of Clematis are very popular for planting near trellises. Fill yours with this native variety that blooms a gentle pale yellow.
- Deer grass: Not only can this grass variety tolerate drought; it can also deal with a huge range of soil types. You may like it best as a single plant instead of a whole lawn, because it is gorgeous and graceful when allowed to grow tall.
7. Change Your Grass Species
Much ado has been made about getting rid of grass altogether. While the idea of replacing your whole lawn with succulents isexciting to many, it isn’t always the best option. Some people enjoy grass and want to keep it. Others would love to use other ground covers, but need to deal with HOAs, or know that their home wouldn’t sell if it were given this treatment. While you can add a ton of natives and otherplants with low water needs, most people will need some grass. So, make it the right grass.
Different grass species are intended for different climates. If you’re in Northern California, you most likely need a cool season grass, that can handle a bit of cold and a bit of drought. Some species will be better at maximizing their water than others. We suggest you consider:
- Fine Fescue: This soft grass requires much less water than the standard Kentucky Bluegrass and is still tough enough to handle traffic.
- Tall Fescue: As it’s name suggests, you can leave this grass species a little taller than normal, so it can shade itself and retain more water.
- Bermudagrass: If you happen to be in an especially hot pocket of Northern California, this variety can better withstand your extra heat without extra water. In fact, many consider it to be the most drought-tolerant grass of all.
When you’re changing your grass species, consider having it installed as sod. That way, you miss the first few labor-intensive weeks of watering it daily, and the grass will provide coverage to retain water right away.
8. Install Artificial Turf
If removing your lawn is too extreme, but changing your grass type isn’t impactful enough, then artificial turf could be the answer for you.
Artificial turf has come a long way in the last few years. Instead of cheap, plastic looking grass that would look right at home with an airstream and a couple of pink flamingos, today’s artificial turf is extremely lifelike and natural. Since you won’t even realize it’s artificial turf until you’re just a few feet away, chances are good that you’ve walked past artificial turf recently and didn’t even realize it.
Many homeowners also overlook the option of mixing artificial turf and natural grasses. You can always keep natural grass in the areas it will be stepped on and played on, like your main back yard grass, while replacing side yard grass with artificial turf. That can still dramatically lower your watering and upkeep needs without drastically changing the composition of your yard.