Plant removal is a savvy, albeit unorthodox, sustainability move. Some plants make you smile, and some bestow privacy or structure. Others take resources week in and week out, giving little in return. We have too little water for competing needs. That imbalance is analogous to too little income for clashing expenses, or too few hours… Read More Purge the garden
Slope gardens, so common here in southern California and other water-constrained areas like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, epitomize conservation opportunities. Months of experimentation revealed seven water retention practices that curb slopes’ wastefulness, enabling us to cut run times in half and frequency by a third. Even now, 18 months later in the 4th… Read More Control the slopes
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.
If you don’t know how to read the meter, learn. Or have someone else do it for you. A water meter is just like a bathroom scale, car speedometer, or checking account. The information displayed changes bad behavior, validates changes, and reinforces progress. Flawed habits and assumptions are exposed, replaced by facts. Wanting landscaping well-suited… Read More Read the meter and reap
Every gardener knows that plants sometimes struggle. You try to coax them back to health. If they die, you generally replace them with the same variety, especially if mates are in the same bed. A drought upends that “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” mentality. Some plants in some places are simply… Read More Pack it in when plants die
Depending on water pressure and hose size, the average open hose uses in one hour almost as much as the average American family of four uses indoor in six days. Plants cannot use that much water. Like so many others, we used open hoses week in and week out. As I began to measure our… Read More Abolish open hoses
Steer clear of spaghetti connectors routinely used to transfer water from a drip line to a plant several inches away. While these barbed fittings look innocuous, they cause more waste than any other drip irrigation part. Instead, try two leak-proof solutions I devised that perform flawlessly. The problematic three-part standard is: 1.) ¼” connector inserted… Read More Nix spaghetti connectors
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