Cut maintenance AND water

An early ah-ha moment while transforming our garden’s water use was the realization that everything we did also decreased maintenance. I was reminded of that revelation last week as I read landscape designer Lauren Dunec Hoang’s superb “How to Design a Low-Maintenance Garden” houzz post.

Hoang’s most common client request is for a low-maintenance garden. Here in our dry climate immersed in drought, mine is for a low-water garden. We may come at it from different perspectives, but lo and behold, maintenance and water are in fact two sides of the same sheet of paper.

Hoang presents “12 ideas to set up your garden to spend less time weeding, mowing, and mulching, and more time enjoying.” A summary of each idea plus my net-net of water impact is below, with links to prior posts that further illustrate the bond. It’s remarkable: decrease maintenance and you decrease water; decrease water and you decrease maintenance.

Hoang’s 12 ideas to decrease garden maintenance Maintenance effect Water effect, with links to prior relevant posts
1. Create outdoor living areas. Hardscape takes little maintenance compared to plants Hardscape takes no water
2. Lose the lawn or reduce its size. Grass is worst for maintenance needs and frequency Ditto for water needs and frequency
3. Limit planting space. Less plants, less maintenance Less plants, less water
4. Choose unfussy plants well-suited to your area. Plants suited to climate and soil take less effort Ditto for water
5. Swap a flower border for shrubs. Unlike shrubs, flower borders require staking, deadheading, etc. Water/square foot is operative principle, and shrubs win
6. Go for a modern, minimalist look. Fewer plants take less effort than many do Ditto for water
7. Let some areas go wild. Natural translates to little or no maintenance Ditto for water
8. Opt for a simple water feature. Water feature takes less effort than a pond Stick to recirculating. Or feature a no-maintenance, no-water bench
9. Choose perennials for color. Perennials take less effort than annual bedding plants Ditto for water
10. Organize your tools. Tools in their place eliminate wasted hunting time N/A
11. Spread mulch on beds. Mulch suppresses weeds Mulch improves water retention and efficiency too
12. Create a spot to relax. Spend time on enjoying the garden Amen