Photo by Elliott Brown

Update: Using a lot of water to keep your garden looking its best can prove very expensive and causes a lot of damage to the environment. People often mistakenly over-water their gardens without knowing exactly how much water their plants really need. This is both wasteful and can actually cause a lot of damage to plants. In an effort to be greener, many homeowners are landscaping using fewer green areas and plants that need much less water to survive. Gravel, rocks and wooded areas also provide variety and texture to a garden while also cutting down the amount of water you’ll need to use. Installing a water-butt that collects rain water and waste water from the kitchen and bathroom in your home is another great way to keep your garden watered without using extra resources.

Landscapes and water typically go hand-in-hand, and water usage has a major impact on your wallet depending on your particular landscape’s survival needs. To reduce the amount of water you use and to cut down on the cost of installing irrigation, a little forethought and planning goes a long way.

The costs and availability of water in many areas of the United States, in particular the western United States, are giving rise to the popularity of xeriscape landscaping. Xeriscape incorporates water conservation through creative landscaping by choosing plants that require less water to survive, and by strategically placing them in the landscape design for maximum growth potential. Xeriscape landscaping does not require automatic irrigation systems, saving you installation and water usage costs.

Another principle of xeriscape landscaping is the use of rocks and gravel. In doing so, fewer plants and flowers are needed, which again helps to cut down on water consumption.

In order to set up a yard that uses xeriscape techniques, one important thing to remember is to group together similar plants, shrubs, and flowers with the most identical needs. If you have two plants that need watering once every other day, try to group them together. Select plants that are indigenous to your area and survive on natural precipitation. Set up automatic sprinklers to help cut down on water consumption by giving you control over how much water is being used, and then chart the effectiveness of your water distribution.

Homeowners notoriously over-water plants, shrubs, and flowers in a futile attempt to keep them looking their best. While water can go a long way to keeping your lawn and landscaping healthy, remember that plants only need so much water. After a certain point, any more water causes erosion and runoff of the soil and its fertilizers, and over-watering can cause soil mold and other problems for your plants.

If sprinklers are used for irrigation, they should be placed so that the water is applied in a uniform manner without any spread-over to areas already watered, or not needing water at all. Ideally, sprinklers should be placed apart from each other at a distance that is 50-60% of the wetted diameter. The application rate of the sprinklers should be adjusted to the soil type, as sandy soil can absorb more moisture than clay soil, where runoff can occur easily. For denser soils, water more often for brief periods to improve absorption.

Drip Irrigation is a good alternative to sprinkler irrigation. Drip systems cost less to install than sprinkler systems, and they use about 50% less water. Water loss due to evaporation can be minimized by irrigating at night, and timers on irrigation systems regulate the water flow to the amount and time of day or night that is the most efficient for your landscape’s vegetation.