Creating an environmentally-friendly landscape design is easier than you might think. The traditional landscape design includes large areas of turf, or grass, areas surrounded by well-manicured trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, this type of landscaping is not well-adapted to hotter, drier climates and requires large amounts of water and maintenance.
The biggest impact you can have on water conservation is reducing the amount of water needed for landscaping. Up to 60% of the typical residential water use is for landscaping, so finding ways to cut back on water usage in your landscape will save you money while conserving this precious resource.
Everyone wants to have a beautifully landscaped lawn and garden area. Creating a water-saving landscape design can be both beautiful and low-maintenance. Here are 10 tips to help you create an interesting, and environmentally-friendly, landscape design:
1. Reduce lawn size
Environmentally-friendly landscape designs mean less grass. The most efficient way to reduce the amount of water you need for landscaping is to reduce the size of your lawn. Plant large flower beds at the corners and edges of your lawn, to create visual interest, height and seating areas.
2. Utilize Hardscapes
Use hardscapes, like boulders and pavers, to enhance landscape design and create interest. A seating area surrounded by pavers and plants becomes a destination that the whole family will use and enjoy. Or create a stepping stone pathway through your lawn to a shaded seating area.
3. Plant Wisely
Annuals are beautiful but require lots of water to maintain. Utilize perennials as they are the most efficient choice when it comes to the amount of water they require throughout the year.
Grasses are also a good choice, as they require very little water to maintain and they provide height and visual interest to the garden.
Plant your flower beds in the fall, when temperatures are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
4. Layer your landscape
Edge your property with shrubs, then layer shorter plants, like native grasses in front of the shrubbery. Next layer perennials, then ground cover plants in planting beds. This layering affect with enhance the curb appeal of your home and provide focal points of interest.
5. Enhance the slopes
Environmentally-friendly landscape design incorporates the slopes and hillsides, which can sometimes create challenges when planning a landscape. Utilize native shrubs, boulders, rocks and ground cover in steep areas. Building a retaining wall on sloped areas can provide a flatter area for planting beds.
6. Amend the soil
Nourish your soil with essential nutrients to ensure that plants can thrive. Nitrogen will help leaf and stem growth; phosphorus is vital for root growth and potassium helps keep plants healthy.
Enhance soil to ensure plants get the nutrients they need. Utilizing organic fertilizers, which are plant and animal based, to improve the texture and condition of the soil. Compost and manure can help improve the soil.
Mulch heavily in plant beds. Space out plants and use 2-3” of mulch between plants, to reduce water loss and prevent weeds. Add at least 2 inches of new mulch each year.
8. Utilize Ground Cover plants
Ground cover plants typically are low-growing, so they can cover large areas, filling in space in plant beds. Not only do they stabilize sloping areas, to prevent erosion, they also work well as edging plants, accenting your plant beds and providing a soft border for your turf area. They come in a variety of color and textures and help reduce weeds and bare spots in your garden.
9. Use Smart Irrigation
An environmentally-friendly landscape design utilizes irrigation systems, to avoid wasting water. Install a drip-irrigation system, to deliver water directly to plants without wasting water. Inspect your lawn irrigation system and make necessary adjustments to ensure you don’t have leaks that waste water needlessly or end up watering sidewalks, patios, driveways and the street.
Water for longer periods of time but less frequently, to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening, when temperatures are lower to minimize evaporation. Water only when necessary and turn off irrigation systems during periods of precipitation.
10. Install Artificial Grass
Artificial grass is becoming more popular because it requires little to no water, no fertilizer and no pesticides. Installing synthetic turf also decreases the amount of time, effort and money that is typically associated with landscaping chores. Artificial turf can save up to 56,000 gallons of water a year, while cutting back on your bill and chores – that’s a win for everyone! Learn more about installing artificial turf for your lawn!