TOP TEN WATER-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPE TIPS
Whether you’re installing a new landscape, renovating an existing one, or just looking for ways to conserve water in an urban environment, proper planning and design are essential to creating a water-wise landscape. Water – Use It Wisely offers simple considerations to get you started on the design path.
1 | Grade Yard
Grading your yard gives it a natural look and creates more dimension and interest in the landscape. It will also capture rainfall better. Don’t make mounds greater than 1′ in height over grade, or it may look unnatural. Make mounds irregular in shape, not perfectly symmetrical and sloped. Create swales (low spots) to capture water and direct water to your plants, not the street.
2 | Boulders
Use boulders to accent the landscape. A grade of boulders called “surface boulders” look more natural. Their color usually matches the natural-colored granites. Bury the boulders by at least 1/3 of their size; place plants close to them to soften them.
3 | Granite
Use 1/4 or 1/2 inch minus granite (not screened granite). It provides a more natural desert look and is easier to walk on. Use natural colors like desert gold, beige, or brown. While organic mulches are not used much here, they are a very beneficial ground cover.
4 | Group Plants
Place plants in natural plant groupings as you would see in the desert. Don’t space plants evenly around the yard. Plant groups in odd numbers. Open space is okay.
5 | Views
Block or enhance views. You may want to block an unsightly view, such as the truck your neighbor parks on the street or enhance a scenic view of the mountains. Also, consider the views from inside your home. Place plants accordingly to provide a great focal point out of a window.
6 | Common Theme
Don’t plant one of every plant you like in a small landscape. It will tend to look like a botanical garden. Use the same plant in different locations of the yard to unify the look.
7 | Energy Conservation
Be sure to block southern and western exposures of your home from the summer sun. Use deciduous trees for these exposures so that you can take advantage of the sun’s warmth in the winter.
8 | Hardscape
Hardscape is the inclusion of any non-plant features for the landscape, such as patios, benches, flagstone walkways, sculptures, boulders, bird features, etc. These spots can provide sitting areas, BBQ space, and will extend your living space to the outdoors. It is usually best to plan and install these areas before plant installation.
9 | Flowers
Plant wildflowers that will reseed themselves and provide seasonal color and charm to your landscape year-round. Some suggested flowers are penstemons, desert marigold, golden dyssodia, tufted evening primrose, poppies, and lupines.
10 | Native Plants
Use plants native to the Sonoran, Mohave, or Chihuahuan deserts for best performance. These deserts are all found in the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Although desert plants from other continents such as Africa or Australia will usually perform well, the look may not always fit, like the large Eucalyptus trees.
There are many more considerations for landscape design. Consult a Landscape Designer/ Architect to help you design your dream landscape.
Donna DiFrancesco of Rosie Certified Water – Use It Wisely joins us to talk landscaping. Specifically the ways to be water conscience and still have a lovely yard. Whether installing a new landscape, renovating an existing one, or just looking for ways to conserve water in an urban environment, proper planning and design are essential to creating a water wise landscape!
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Water – Use It Wisely offers the best ideas on outdoor landscaping in the low Arizona deserts. Learn the basics of xeriscape landscaping, find our 10-part Drab to Fab landscaping video series, plant selection ideas, local workshops on landscaping, and more.
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