Seven Principles of Water-Wise Gardening #COdrought


From the Sterling Journal-Advocate (Sara Waite):

[Brian Kailey] horticulturalist with the Logan County Extension Office spoke about the “Seven Principles of Water-Wise Gardening,” which uses water efficiently to create landscapes that are both attractive and use-appropriate…

Developing a water-wise garden requires:

• Planning and designing for water conservation, beauty and utility

• Improving the soil with organic matter so it will hold more water and minerals and allow for a deeper root system

• Creating practical turf and non-turf areas to match expectations with the actual use of the site

• Selecting plants appropriate for the climate and grouping them according to their water needs

• Watering efficiently with appropriate irrigation methods

• Mulching to reduce evaporation

• Maintaining plants with good horticultural practices

Kailey warned against “zero-scape,” which removes all or most vegetation and replaces it with rock, which then heats up the surrounding environment.

He said that grass offers benefits such as trapping dust and pollen, reducing noise and glare, cooling the surrounding environment and controlling soil erosion. However, there are places where grass may not be appropriate, such as under shade trees where it will not grow well.

He named several perennial plants that are drought tolerant and appropriate for the High Plains climate:

• Prairie coneflower

• Penstemon spp.

• Gaillardia

• California poppy

• Lilac (bush or trees)

• Sagebrush

• Rabbitbrush (“Chamisa”)

Kailey said 40 to 50 percent of water used for landscape irrigation is wasted because of poor design and maintenance and management. He said many systems were set up with little consideration of water conservation. Irrigation zones should reflect water demand, which is affected by exposure to sun, heat and wind. For example, the lawn on a southwest facing slope will typically require twice as much water as the lawn on the north side…

He recommended using drip irrigation for shrubs, flower beds, small fruits and vegetables to reduce water use by up to 50 percent.

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