Waterwise Landscaping

    • May Day is the perfect time to celebrate spring and to brighten someone’s day with a basket of flowers.
    • It’s time to put out oriole feeders. You can also attract them with fresh orange halves.
    • Flower seeds can be sown directly in the garden now. Cosmos, marigolds and zinnias will give you beautiful flowers all summer.
    • Plant the vegetable garden this month, but remember that late frosts can still nip tender young plants.
    • Beautiful African Violets will decorate your indoor spaces with their masses of flowers in all shades of purple, blue and pink.

Waterwise Landscaping

Waterwise landscaping is an approach to landscaping that emphasizes water conservation. By using plants that are more drought tolerant your landscape will be able to survive through long dry periods with a minimum of water. Using native and Mediterranean plants, a well-designed landscape provides diversity and beauty with minimum maintenance.

Water efficient landscaping includes grouping plants together with similar water requirements, watering just to meet the plant needs and using decks and patios to enhance your enjoyment of the yard.

To create a landscape that uses minimal irrigation, the secret is to use tough, drought-tolerant plants that will grow in the amount of sun or shade available in a particular site. You can use plants that like more moisture along north and east facing slopes and walls. Don’t mix plants with high and low water needs in the same planting area.

Shrubs that will grow well in these conditions include rockroses, California wild lilac, lavenders, rosemary, manzanitas, mugo pines and junipers. In addition, common shrubs like forsythia, barberry, Oregon grape, cotoneaster, Philadelphus and lilacs can get by with occasional summer watering. These will give you a variety of sizes and textures to fill large spaces and tumble over rocks and down hillsides.

Add color to the setting with some of the many perennials that tolerate these conditions. The following plants are very drought tolerant. They should survive with a monthly irrigation once established, but you may choose to irrigate them twice per month from June through August for additional flowering.

Reliable, easy-care yarrows have flat clusters of colorful flowers and finely divided, fern-like foliage. Smaller varieties, like ‘Pomegranate,’ are low growing with 18-inch flower stems while ‘Moonshine’ grows to two feet and ‘Coronation Gold’ can reach four feet tall. They bloom through early summer.

Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, has large, showy daisy flowers that bloom from early to late summer. Some exciting new varieties have flowers in bright reds and yellows with names like ‘Hot Coral’ and ‘Cheyenne Spirit.’

Red Valerian is a well-known plant in many older gardens, where its rosy-red flowers on tall, floppy stems bloom continuously from late spring through summer. It reseeds readily and is easy-to-grow.

Sedums are often overlooked but these succulents are excellent in sunny spots with well-drained soil. From the low-growing ‘Cape Blanco’ with its attractive silver-gray foliage, to the 24-inch tall ‘Autumn Joy’ with its large domes of bright pink flowers, sedums contrast beautifully with more delicate plants.

Very large areas can be planted with a wildflower mix. Now is a good time to broadcast these seeds. The mix may include California poppy, lupine, purple coneflower, and gaillardia.

There are many more plants that will survive with watering just twice a month, which I will share next week. By designing your landscape with drought tolerant plants, you can make the most of our precious water resources.

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