Low Water Landscape Design Tips
Many modern landscape designers have water conservation in mind when they seek to transform a new space. You don’t be a to a professional to create a stunning and easy to care for low water landscape. A few simple tips can transform your yard into a low maintenance desert oasis in no time.
Dams, Dry Creeks & Pebble Gardens
Rocks are one of the best landscaping tools available for those who wish to maintain a low water garden. Smaller rocks can be used to create a pebble garden to replace thirsty grass. Large boulders can be used as an eye catching focal point. Decomposed granite is ideal for creating walkways and promotes healthy rainwater drainage that benefits the surrounding environment.
Rocks of various sizes can be artfully arranged to create a meandering rock stream. Rock streams can divert rainwater to plants in their vicinity that require a little extra irrigation. Dry streams can be very pleasing to the eye if they are lined with pieces of driftwood and water efficient succulents.
Another popular use of rocks is the creation of a check damn. A check dam is an ancient irrigation technique that was popular in arid climates such as West Africa. A check damn employs tiered rocks to create an irrigation system that causes rainwater to flow naturally downward to low-lying areas where it is needed most. The versatility of rocks makes them an essential component of any low water garden.
Low Water Ornamental Grass
One of the most vital ways to conserve water is to ditch traditional grass and replace it with drought-resistant ornamental grass. Most ornamental grass won’t have the same appearance of the short bright green grass that most of us are accustomed to. Ornamental grass is available in many different sizes and varieties. A very popular low water landscaping technique is to stagger ornamental grass among rocks and succulents.
Zebra Grass (Micanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus,), Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), and and Pampas Grass (Cortaderia sellona) are some classic ornamental grasses. If you miss traditional green grass, consider adding a colorful ornamental grass such as Liriope (Liriope muscari) or Purple Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) to add some vibrant colors. Many ornamental grasses–such as Pampas Grass—grow quite tall and can serve as an excellent border for your low water garden.
Always make sure you are being conservative with your water usage. It’s best to hire a sprinkler installation company to set you up with a water saving system.
Drought Tolerant Succulents
No discussion of low water gardens is complete without talk of succulents. Succulents are beautiful, durable plants that can add color and texture to your landscape. Succulents are so hearty, some of them are even known to be fire resistant, Jade plants (Crassula ovata), Aloe aborescens, and Aeonium howorhii can add some welcome splashes of green to your garden.
Colorful, blooming succulents can serve as a breath taking centerpiece in an arid landscape. Consider a majestic cactus such as a Hedgehog Cactus (Echinopsis) if you’re searching for a show stopping bloom. A more delicate succulent such as Echeveria can add a subtle accent.
No discussion of succulents is complete without talk of vertical gardening, Rectangular wooden plant boxes that hang on walls have become increasingly popular in recent years. Succulents are the ideal plants for vertical gardening because they are extremely resilient and use water very efficiently.
The wide variety of colors and textures can create stunning awe-inspiring designs. It’s important to note that vertical gardens will only be successful if they are derived from succulent cuttings. Vertical gardening is a slightly more involved form of low water landscaping, but the artful end result is well worth the effort.
Rain water barrels are the perfect step for the most conservation minded among as to ensure that your low water garden is as environmentally friendly as possible, A strategically placed rain barrel at the mouth of a downspout or sloped roof can potentially gather enough water to care for your garden without tapping into the local water supply.
There are methods to convert barrel collected rainwater into water for drinking, bathing, and home use. Home use water requires a more advanced collection and filtration system. If you are truly dedicated to water conservation, there are specialists who can help you reduce your need for or even become completely independent of your local water supply.
Be sure to check out our Fall landscaping tips that goes into more detail about rain barrels.