According to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), approximately 17,677,000 people in Texas are affected by abnormal dryness or drought. Not only does this make water a scarce commodity throughout the state, but it also makes tending to lush gardens nigh impossible. Considering the fact that 30 percent of an average family’s water usage is devoted to outdoor applications, including landscape irrigation, it doesn’t seem wise to maintain a natural lawn. Fortunately, homeowners in Phoenix and Scottsdale don’t have to make do with dry, barren backyards.
Drought tolerant gardening or xeriscaping is a concept that revolves around reducing water use in your landscape. Derived from the Greek word “xeric” that means “requiring little water,” it’s a practice that prioritizes water-wise designs while creating a layout with beautiful greenery. While xeriscaping was intended for places that experience dry weather, the principles of this practice that suits other climates just as well.
If you’re serious about contributing to the global water conservation effort, adapting a drought proof style to gardening can significantly cut down your overall water usage without sacrificing curb appeal. Here are some great ideas you can start with.
Switch to Artificial Grass
When you turn on the sprinkler or hose down a natural lawn, not all of the water seeps through the soil and gets absorbed by the grass. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 50 percent of water used for irrigation is only wasted due to wind, runoff caused by inefficient irrigation systems, and evaporation. Replacing natural grass with artificial grass will completely eliminate the need for watering. On top of that, synthetic turf also doesn’t require mowing, mulching, fertilizing, re-seeding, re-sodding and aerating to retain the realistic color and quality of the grass blades.
Do a Little Hardscaping
Stone, gravel, pavers, rocks, boulders and all sorts of hardscaping elements contrast nicely with the green color of artificial grass. If you don’t have the budget to have synthetic turf installed to your whole lawn, you can just have it put in a small portion of your yard. You can also create a path leading to your home with some artfully placed pavers and scatter some stone features to act as focal points. If you’re not a fan of gravel and stone, you can just leave the soil bare after pulling out your natural lawn. Maintaining hard landscape materials requires absolutely no water and gives your garden a modern, minimalist look to boot.
Plant Succulents Instead
Just because you’re opting for artificial grass and gravel doesn’t mean you have to give up plants, too. You can better care for plants and ensure that they get enough water by placing them in raised beds. They will still require watering but you can better control and manage how much you use by doing this. For drought prone areas, however, it’s safer to just plant succulents or local plant species that don’t require to be watered daily. Succulents survive for years with little to no water, and really add more texture and glow to your garden, especially when their vibrantly colored flowers are in full bloom.
Add Some Perennials
If you’d rather fill your backyard with colorful flowers instead of succulents, pick perennials that are more resilient and require minimal water. Some favorites include lavender, kangaroo paw, salvia, blanket flower, Russian sage and yarrow that come in vivid reds, crimsons, yellows, oranges, and violets. It’s up to you to pick out hues and shades that blend well together. But rather than planting them down in the dirt, invest in a few pots and scatter them about in your yard. Buy or build plant boxes and raised beds for flowering plants that need a bit more depth to grow out their roots. Either way, you get quite an assortment of gorgeous and sturdy perennials to adorn your garden.
Incorporate Living Areas
Why put all that work into your backyard if you’re not going to get the most out of it? Take it as an opportunity to extend your living space to the outdoors. Your backyard could be the perfect hangout area with the addition of a table, some chairs and a large patio umbrella for much needed shade from the sun. But if you really want your outdoor space to be more accommodating and comfortable, decks, patios and pergolas are more ideal. Artificial grass is a good flooring material to give the area more warmth and color. This also allows you to seamlessly blend the garden to this usable space. Just imagine enjoying a pleasant day with your bare feet resting on the soft turf.
Put Up Vines on Walls
Having tall walls or fences on your property is the perfect excuse to try your hand at vertical gardening. Living walls made of drought tolerant vines and climbing plants go great with artificial grass. They require very little water and create natural shade that can cool down the surroundings by about 10 degrees. The rich, green curtain they form also acts as a divider or barrier to give you more privacy. Some great vines that hold up well against droughts and hot weather are bougainvillea, honeysuckle, Arizona grape ivy, cat’s claw vine, crossvine, creeping fig, Jasmine, Wisteria, trumpet vine, Mexican flame vine and Lady Blank’s rose. Some of these even have lovely blooming flowers and sweet aromas.
Collect and Reuse Rainwater
Rainwater harvesting is a widely observed practice in dry areas that get little rain. The most commonly utilized system is one that uses the gutters that directs collected water into a large tank by the side of the house. The good news is you can also do this with some types of artificial grass. In this system, a collection tank will be placed underground to catch rainwater that drains through the synthetic grass. The grass blades and infill material serve as filters to remove mud, dirt and other debris from the water. You can then use it for your low-water gardens and other household chores such as washing the car, flushing the toilet or outdoor water features you might have on your yard.
Conserving water is easier if you use these drought-tolerant landscaping tips for your own garden. Work with a professional artificial grass installation company, such as Sunburst Landscaping, to see if these ideas are suitable for your lawn.