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How To Create A Water Wise Garden


How To Create A Water Wise Garden

Creating a water wise garden doesn’t mean you have to give up color. Grevillea, a drought and deer resistant species of evergreen plants from Australia, is making a comeback. With over 300 varieties, the possibilities are endless! Mix Grevillea with hardy items like lavender, rosemary, flax and bottle brush.

Keep in mind that drought-friendly plants may be low maintenance, but they do need to be cared for. It is better to allow room for them to grow and mature versus pruning and cutting them back which can invite pests and disease in. This is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in a garden but remember patience is a virtue.

Draw your garden out on graph paper. Take note of where natural drainage occurs and where the terraced areas are. Utilizing these spaces more wisely will help to decrease water erosion and therefore water loss.  Graphing your garden is a really good tool to plot the potential size of large plants so that you do not over plant. Over planting not only leads to more work but it requires more water than is necessary.  If you are waiting for a large plant to grow into a space then you can use cheaper annuals to fill the space until plants mature.  

If creating an entire water wise garden seems a little daunting to you, try starting small at first. Plant succulents in a container or a rock garden. One of the easiest things you can do to reduce water usage is to use mulch. Mulch keeps moisture from evaporating. Remulch every year. Plant shade trees that will help limit water evaporation. Try keeping plants that require regular watering in containers.

A water-friendly garden should include a drip irrigation system to apply water at a low flow to help infiltration. You should also consider using an automatic irrigation controller with budgeting capability and enhanced with Hunter “SolarSync” to apply only the amount of water that is absolutely necessary and adjust the amount of water released by the irrigation depending on the weather. If that sounds intimidating, install a rain barrel. There are some new products on the market that are a little more decorative than the standard black barrel. You will need to decide how to distribute the water they collect – by gravity or pump. Also try to use permeable pavers and gravel products for walkways which allow rainwater to drain into the soil. If an irrigation system is not within budget, remember to water during cool periods of the day to reduce as much evaporation as you can.

Go on tours of gardens to get ideas. Visit the “Water Wise Wine Country Garden” at SBI Materials in Windsor. It is an alternative to large lawn gardens, takes less maintenance than a typical lawn and garden area, and uses 30% of the water a thirsty lawn of equivalent size uses. Stroll through four themed areas, all of which are designed with State of California approved ‘low water usage’ plants. The garden makes use of SBI’s own biofiltration top soil, specially formulated to filter and enhance infiltration as well as an organic mulch that lowers the moisture loss through evaporation. Semi-permeable paths and patios in the garden allow percolation of water to slow down the runoff of excess water into the storm drain system.

And don’t be afraid to reach out and contact your local nursery. Garrett Ace Hardware, Gardenworks Inc. and SBI Materials have experts on hand to answer your questions and help you create the water wise garden of your dreams.

Water Wise Wine Country Garden - by SBI Landscape Materials

Garrett Ace Hardware

Gardenworks Inc.

SBI Materials, Inc.

Note: The Water Wise Wine Country Garden was created by SBI Building Materials & Landscape Supplies, Garrett Ace Hardware & Gardenworks Inc. in an effort to educate and demonstrate to the community gardening techniques that are “water wise”.