A well-designed garden can conserve water and protect our natural resources. It can also require less maintenance through reduced mowing, no-till methods and no yard chemicals.
Start by reducing open areas of lawn and replacing them with shrubs, perennials, annuals and ground covers that are naturally drought-tolerant. Water wise plants also help reduce evapotranspiration by shading the soil.
The best way to reduce water use in the landscape is to select low-use plants. These plants can provide color, texture and interest in the landscape while using significantly less water than traditional turf grass lawns. There are many types of water-wise plants to choose from, including natives and well-adapted exotics. These plants can be found at local garden centers and nurseries or through online sources.
Incorporating water wise plant selections into your landscape can decrease your maintenance needs by reducing weed growth and mowing, while increasing the amount of healthy ground cover in your yard. These plants are also often more resilient to insect damage, drought, heat and disease than conventional turf grass.
Drought tolerant, low-use or native plants are a good choice for areas with rocky, sandy soils that do not perform well with regular irrigation or in hot summer temperatures and long periods without rain. Plants that can thrive in these conditions are better adapted to the region’s climate, soils and growing conditions, and require lower water demands than many non-adapted, imported plants.
Choosing trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to your area provides many environmental, personal and financial benefits. Not only do they use far less water than conventional landscaping plants, but they are adapted to the unique Texas environment and have natural resistance to pests. In addition, native plants require fewer fertilizers than many non-native plants.
When choosing trees, shrubs and flowers for your landscape, consider using plant zones that group plants with similar water requirements together. This allows for more efficient irrigation, and helps prevent over- or under-watering. It’s also important to manage weeds to keep them from competing with your desired plants for water.
Xeriscaping, a method of landscaping that uses only native and low-water use plants, can save 66% of the water used in a lawn. This can be accomplished by converting your lawn to a garden, adding shade with native trees and shrubs or growing your own food in a vegetable garden.
In addition to saving money and water, Water Wise gardening has a number of other important benefits: It supports pollinators, reduces urban air pollution from lawn mowing, improves soil permeability and aids regulation of the water cycle. It also reduces water demand on local utilities, keeping more water in rivers and reducing the likelihood that utilities will need to invest in costly new water projects.
A Water Wise Landscape is more than just a low-water use garden; it’s an approach to landscaping that conserves natural resources. It requires thoughtful consideration of the site’s climate, soil type, sun exposure and existing plants to develop a landscape that is healthy, efficient and sustainable. This approach can reduce the need for additional water, fertilizer and pesticides — which saves money and helps to protect local water bodies.
The principles of Water Wise Design go beyond traditional elements and principles of design to include efficient irrigation, plant selection and placement, soil health, mulches, turf reduction and hydrozoning. These techniques promote reduced water use while maintaining a vibrant and healthy landscape.
Water wise gardens offer a diverse palette of flowers, shrubs and trees that can be used to create a colorful, lush garden that’s easy to maintain. In addition to conserving water, these gardens require fewer chemicals and less maintenance than conventional landscapes, reducing environmental pollution.
Using native or locally-adapted plants is one of the most important steps in creating a Water Wise landscape. These plants are better adapted to the region’s soil and climate, which means they can survive a variety of weather conditions and will thrive when given proper care. They also have lower water demands than non-adapted exotic plants that are often planted in Texas gardens. Our online PlantSelector can help you select the best plants for your area.
A well-planned, low-water use garden is a beautiful complement to any home, no matter the style. It’s a great choice for new construction and can be integrated into an existing landscape to reduce costs and maintenance. And it’s a smart choice for any property in our drought-prone state.
Using plants that thrive in arid conditions creates a stunningly vibrant and lush landscape that’s not only a feast for the eyes, but it benefits the ecosystem as well. By combining the right plants with efficient irrigation systems, you can create a landscape that not only conserves water, but saves time and energy as well. In fact, this approach is a smart idea even in areas that don’t suffer from frequent water shortages.
Using water wisely helps conserve our natural resources and is good for the environment. It can also help us save money and keep our landscapes healthy and attractive. Waterwise landscaping practices include proper planning and design, soil analysis and amendments, plant selection, efficient irrigation techniques, turf management and maintenance. They reduce the amount of water, fertilizer and pesticides that reach local lakes and streams.
The right plants require less supplemental water than those that aren’t adapted to our climate or soils. Using the PlantSelector tool on our website, you can find out which plants are best suited to your region and soil conditions. Using native or adapted plants, as opposed to non-native species, not only requires less water but may be more resistant to diseases and insect pests, too.
Replacing thirsty lawns with beautiful beds of flowers, shrubs, evergreens and grasses, known as xeriscaping, is one way to create a water-wise yard. In this front yard, pretty perennial gardens and a gravel pathway take the place of thirsty turf grass.
Irrigation systems that apply water evenly, at the correct time and to the roots of the plants are key to water wise landscaping. Irrigation systems also provide benefits beyond the conservation of water, such as soil erosion prevention and the distribution of nutrients to the plant roots efficiently, thus minimizing nutrient loss from runoff.
Water-wise landscaping requires fewer chemicals, which means a healthier yard for you and your family. Less use of chemicals reduces the amount of pollutants that reach our lakes and rivers, too.
A properly designed and maintained irrigation system can be the single most important component of a water-wise yard. Check your sprinkler system regularly for leaks, misdirected spray and other problems. Avoid irrigating during the heat of the day, which causes more water to evaporate than at other times of the day.
Graywater systems are another great way to recycle water that would otherwise go directly to a sewer or septic system. It can be used for bathing, laundry and watering your garden or lawn. This helps reduce the demand on our municipal water supplies and may save you up to 40,000 gallons per year!
Many water-wise practices help a garden to look attractive while reducing the amount of water it needs to thrive. For example, mulching reduces weed growth and evaporation and helps keep soil cool. Watering only when the soil needs it promotes deep root growth and a healthy garden ecosystem. Using a drip system or a low flow spray nozzle to irrigate eliminates wasting water and allows for better control of the amount of water used.
Another way to save water is to plant native and drought tolerant plants, or xeriscapes, as they are often more resistant to pests, disease and other problems that can affect a garden. Choosing a variety of plants with different colors, shapes and textures offers visual interest and provides a sense of natural beauty to the landscape.
Irrigating only when the soil needs it, in the right amounts, and during the best time of day minimizes water loss to evaporation, wind and runoff. Keeping turf areas as small as possible and limiting the use of fertilizers and herbicides will also conserve water. Changing out old pop-up sprinklers for high-efficiency rotary nozzles helps to further reduce the water used in the landscape. Irrigating the garden in the fall, rather than the summer, is a great way to encourage strong root development and avoid stress during the heat of the summer.
The OSU Extension publication “WaterWise Gardening for Central Oregon” is a wonderful resource to learn how to make a beautiful, low-water landscape. And the Hollinshead WaterWise Demo Garden provides a wealth of ideas.
This event will connect experts from every major maintenance & construction sector of the water industry. Attendees will network, discover new technologies and build relationships in the community. Water Wise Pro will offer a full day of workshops preceding the expo with an emphasis on skills training. Attendees can earn up to 6 contact hours for the technical sessions they attend.