Our late 2011 move to a beautiful, albeit neglected, 1.7 acre Southern California property was an eye-opener on water and waste. Five years of drought, 3 years of rationing, and multiple redos later, our 1-acre zone 10 gardens can now be described as sustainable and lush with a touch of whimsy. Thriving plants after this… Read More My plants
Binge-watch season of House of Cards? Or binge-read tomes on gardening in dry climates? Coupled with on-site research, my waterwise landscaping crash courses these past 2 years were fueled by scouring the internet, buttonholing experts, and attending classes. I digested Western and California books in my library, and drilled deep into 72 more. Aha moments… Read More Binge-reading revelations
Drifts of groundcover are naturally beautiful and unifying elements in gardens. Yet these innocent-looking plants can become an H20-ingesting Little Shop of Horrors. It’s the nature of an abundance of alluring smallish plants, each dependent on a little irrigation. Three sustainability pitfalls stem from groundcover’s seductiveness. Initially, with human nature being what it is, plants… Read More Rethink groundcover
Yogi Berra could have been describing water-wise landscaping when he proclaimed “Little things are big.” It may seem counterintuitive, but that is particularly true for irrigation leaks. The big culprit is not the once-in-a-blue-moon, attention-getting gusher but rather a myriad of little, insidious leaks. A gusher can waste thousands of gallons in a few hours… Read More Four smart sleuthing skills
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
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.
Want to be more sustainable? Do less. Less-thirsty or fewer plants, no or greatly reduced lawn, and less frequent or shorter watering. Embrace this strategy and you’ll build capacity to endure a drought, leave more for the next generation, AND save water, maintenance, and waste. A garden\garden case study by the City of Santa Monica… Read More Do less to get more
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