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No water gardening for extreme drought

Interesting non-living garden materials
Interesting non-living garden materials
Photo by Jane Gates

Many parts of the country are experiencing extreme weather. Although the headlines tend to reflect the most dramatic patterns like hurricanes and snow storms, serious conditions can develop more subtly and don’t make themselves felt until someone notices there is a disaster quietly in the making. Severe drought has this kind of impact and it is happening on the West Coast.

In parts of the country where the sun is shining, it’s easy to enjoy the convenience of sunny days and the lack of rain. But all life is dependent on water and already there are some serious signs that droughts like the one affecting California presently should be prepared for before water reaches the critical level.

In California this is the third year of below average precipitation. And so far the current year may be a record-breaker. California is a very heavily populated state and most people these days take it for granted that when you turn on a faucet, all the water you want will come gushing out. If the water table becomes too low, though, this may change.

Expect landscapes and gardens to feel the effects of the first water rationing. People who have designed their growing areas for low water consumption will be least impacted. Large green lawns will be the most obvious victims. In drought-prone areas more water is used on landscaping than is consumed for household use. When it comes to saving on vital resources like this, the garden is the first line of resistance – and the first place to see cut-backs.

So what can you do? Rethink your garden areas. Plant with water-wise plants and use plenty of non-living material like gravel, rocks, brick, stone, etc. Areas that need a lot of water like vegetable gardens can be kept together and watered in raised beds where you can keep your watering focused. If you have an area of your landscape that is not looking great, start replacing that space first. Drought-tolerant gardens can be artistic and as beautiful as the water-guzzlers if designed right. Another place to start is to carve out your lawn to replace with useful no-water areas for play, sports, hobbies or dining.

Saving water won’t just protect you from plant loss during water restrictions. It will lower your water bills and the hours you need to spend in garden maintenance. If you replace the demanding parts of your landscape with useful areas, it will extend your living space. And if you do things right, you’ll likely increase the value of your property. All this is good for you physical health since you’ll also be reducing your stress levels and getting outdoors for exercise and vitamin D. If you live in California or any other area feeling the effects of drought, now is the perfect time to redesign your landscape so you can prepare for this water shortage before it combines with summer heat. Think of redesigning your landscape as a fun challenge. It’s something you can do right away that you will be thankful for later. Where would you like to start?

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