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
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
OK, so we all know drought-tolerant plants are a sustainability winner. But do you know three other winners? These four distinctive strategies combine to optimize plant types and quantities, setting the course for water efficiency: Drought-tolerant plants Plant placement Water/square foot Plant removal It’s a mystery why only one of these four – drought-tolerant plants… Read More Four winning plant strategies
Dry-climate landscaping in general, amid a drought in particular, perpetuates a surprising number of myths and misconceptions. Ten of the most common ones are listed below, followed by the facts with links to more details. The sooner these myths are debunked, the sooner more gardens will become sustainable. Myth #1. The current weather pattern is… Read More Top 10 myths, dispelled
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
The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that landscape irrigation accounts for almost one-third of all residential water use, with families in dry climates such as the Southwest using twice that of their counterparts. Irrigating our lawns and gardens consumes nearly 9 billion gallons/day, of which an astonishing 50% is wasted due to inefficiency: The… Read More Water, water, where are you?
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.
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
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