What’s in a name?

In yet another dry summer in year 5 of a drought, I’m reminded how names influence perceptions and actions. Shakespeare’s Juliet argued “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Maybe for Romeo, but not for amorphous concepts to transform water-intensive landscapes. Take ‘drought-tolerant,’ the industry-standard coinage for… Read More What’s in a name?

A world of waterwise choices

‘Drought tolerant’ misses the point. Yes, these plants and their gardens withstand a drought better than others do, but the lasting value is relatively low consumption. How about naming them what they are: ‘low-water’ or ‘waterwise’? ‘Dry-climate appropriate’ works too, but that’s a mouthful. Now that we rectified that misnomer, three geographies offer diverse choices:… Read More A world of waterwise choices

Choose wise plants wisely

Ever wonder why some plants survive and even thrive with little water, high heat, and intense sun, while others struggle and die? The answer lies in their anatomical characteristics. Plants dubbed ‘’drought-tolerant,’ or what Sunset Western Gardening Book terms ‘water-wise,’ need little supplemental watering. Broadly speaking, these troopers have adapted their biology to: store water… Read More Choose wise plants wisely

Gauge plants by water/sq. ft.

Garden guides, both online and printed, specify plant height, width, exposure, and water needs. Some even list soil conditions or vary water needs by specific geography. What is missing, though, is water per square foot, the single-most revealing sustainable gardening metric. While water use of an individual plant matters to overall consumption, my analysis these… Read More Gauge plants by water/sq. ft.

Follow the water

Early 2014’s rationing to less than half our prior consumption was a turning point. Overnight I went from blissfully unaware of how we used water to resolutely committed to sustainable landscaping. Wanting a sound basis for tough decisions, I recalled life cycle assessment (LCA), a systematic evaluation of product stages from cradle to grave. I… Read More Follow the water