With utility costs soaring and concerns about water shortages, the days of lush, green expanses of velvety-soft lawns are essentially over in most parts of the country. Unless you live in an area that receives enough seasonal rainfall to meet your landscaping needs, you’re probably interested in finding strategies that will keep the vegetation in your outdoor living thriving and attractive without having to give it extra summer water. The following are some strategies designed to help you craft a drought-resistant yard.
Use Native Plants
There’s a reason why those shrubs, trees, and perennials you brought home from your local nursery are so needy when it comes to water and fertilizer—they’re non-native species that were grown in greenhouses and given every possible advantage. Think of them as the spoiled children of the plant world, and you’ll see why they don’t thrive unless provided for.
Native plants, on the other hand, are already acclimated to your area climate and soil conditions, and they will also have a natural resistance to local insect pests. Many plant nurseries deal exclusively in native vegetation, and even most big-box home and garden retailers have a section that is devoted to native plants. Native plants include trees, shrubs, herbs, ground covers, perennials, and annuals.
Select Plants Wisely
Plant selection also has an impact on how much water you’ll use to keep your garden green throughout the course of an average summer. Ask your local nursery professionals for recommendations on landscaping plants that perform well when water is limited. As a general rule of thumb, keep in mind that plants with large, green leaves are likely to consume a good deal more water than their counterparts with small, gray or silvery leaves.
Use Plenty of Organic Mulch
Mulching flower beds, vegetable gardens, shrubs, and trees well will help keep available water in the soil from evaporating and will also serve to keep plant roots cool. An organic mulch will also add nutrients to the soil, which will cause plants to be healthier and, therefore, better able to withstand drought and dry conditions.
Cultivate Rock Gardens
Rock gardens provide an excellent way to provide esthetic value to your outdoor living space that won’t require the use of a great deal of water. Rock garden plants are by nature drought resistant sun lovers that rarely require extra water, except in the most extreme circumstances.
Choose Drought-Tolerant Grass
You don’t have to give up your lawn to have a drought-resistant yard. Though some grass species react poorly to drought and dry seasons, an expert from Sod Atlanta says species like Zoysia and Bermuda are remarkably hardy and can withstand periods without water.
Use Rubber Mulch as a Play Surface
Are you still babying along a water-guzzling lawn because you need a relatively soft, even surface where your kids or grandkids can play? Consider putting down rubber mulch as a play surface instead. Rubber mulch provides a soft landing space for active children at play and can contribute significantly to the appearance of your outdoor living space because it comes in a variety of colors and textures.
Create Lots of Hardscaping
Hardscaping refers to surfaces and structures in the outdoor living environments that aren’t vegetative. As mentioned above, rubber mulch is an excellent alternative to lawn grass for play areas, but you don’t want to cover your whole yard with it. By the same token, you probably don’t care for the type of sterile, parking lot look that using lots of concrete creates. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of attractive alternatives to regular concrete. For instance, you can choose to have brick or cobblestone surfaces installed or add a large wooden deck for outdoor entertainment purposes, both of which will cut down on available space for lawns and landscaping plants in your yard, resulting in less need for watering.
Creating a gorgeous outdoor living space will require a combination and customization of the above strategies. Don’t forget to add a rain barrel to catch rainfall to use to water your plants!