5 Water-Conserving Landscaping Tips

By Savannah Rainey

With many states currently experiencing drought conditions and reservoirs steadily becoming less full, water conservation has become a crucial aspect to consider when working on a landscaping project. Here are 5 ways you can help your clients create beautiful, water-conscious landscapes that will hold up through the drought.

1. Select the right plants

Whenever possible, try to use plants that are:

  • Drought resistant — Select plants that can survive, and even thrive, without frequent watering.
  • Native to the area — Plants are naturally suited to the climate of the area they are native to and will be less likely to require special care or additional watering routines. Lists of native plants according to each state and organized by lifespan, sunlight needed, size, soil requirements, etc, can be found here.

2. Reduce the size of lawns

While large areas of turf may look nice, maintaining them also requires a lot of water. According to Eartheasy, there are several alternatives that are less water-intensive, including:

  • Groundcover: Low-spreading plants don't need to be cut and can enhance soil. Ground cover can include flowering perennials, evergreens and edibles.
  • Clover: Clover is a low maintenance plant that helps condition the soil and stays green even during long periods of dry heat. It's also cheap and easy to walk on, but is easily torn apart if the area is well-trafficked.
  • Ornamental grasses: Drought-tolerant grasses aren't meant for walking on, but they do help green up a rock garden or stone area.
  • Flower beds and shrubs: Strategically cluster beds of native and drought-resistant perennials  and shrubs and use at least 2 inches of mulch to help save water and prevent weeds from sprouting.

3. Gravel, stone and sculpture

Gravel and stone, can be a great addition to any landscaping project. They both look great, are easy to maintain, and require absolutely zero water. There are endless ways that stone and gravel can be integrated into a landscape. And unlike plants, which  may thrive or die according to numerous factors — too much sun, too much shade, too much water, soil acidity, nearby plants, disease, insects — it's easy to get creative with gravel and stone.

4. Hydrozoning

Hydrozoning is the practice of grouping plants together based upon their water needs. Hydrozoning makes it easier to provide plants with the specific care they need, instead of the over- or under-watering that can occur when plants with different water needs are planted in the same area.

5. Irrigation

The most important part of any landscaping project, when it comes to water conservation, is irrigation. This ties in heavily with hydrozoning.  An effective irrigation system must be set to water only the areas that need it, only as often as they need it, and with only as much water as they need. This should involve professional expertise and planning. A good irrigation system needs to be customizable to all the different zones of a space.  It is also helpful to use recycled water and newer, more efficient irrigation systems.