McKay Nursery Company

10 Tips for Water-Wise Landscapes

Jun 7, 2018 10:01:00 AM

Good decisions about water benefit you and your landscape, whether your region has drought or plentiful rain. By working to limit the amount of supplemental water your landscape needs, you can cut down on maintenance and utility bills while you conserve. These tips can help create a sustainable landscape that’s beautiful, productive and water-wise:


1. Select plants suited to normal precipitation levels.

Left: Butterfly Weed, top right: Smooth Blue Aster, bottom right: Shenandoah Red Switchgrass

By choosing plants that align with your area norms, you reduce their irrigation needs. That’s true for arid-loving plants in dry climates, and moisture-loving plants in wetter zones. Native plants are great starting points for water-wise planting schemes.


2. Understand your soil type and plant needs.


Your soil influences how much water plants need. By understanding your soil, you can amend as needed to create environments where plants thrive. For example, extra organic matter can improve both light and heavy soils so they drain well, yet retain moisture, too.


3. Group plants with similar water requirements.

Left: Royal Red Butterfly Bush, right: May Night Salvia

By considering moisture needs and grouping like plants together, you can focus water where it’s needed instead of where it’s not. As an added bonus, massing plants together helps attract pollinators to your garden as well.


4. Plant with your yard’s microclimates in mind.

Left: Blondy Wintercreeper, top right: Color Guard Yucca, bottom right: Double Play Candy Corn Spirea

Microclimates are areas such as warm spots next to your home’s foundation or cool, shady garden spots under trees. These areas may lose or retain moisture at different rates than other parts of your yard, so match plants and care accordingly.


5. Protect planting beds with a layer of mulch.


Whatever mulch option you choose, a mulch layer can help retain moisture and prevent temperature fluctuations in soil. Follow good practices for mulching. A 2- to 3-inch layer cuts down on weeds, which compete with plants for water, and it gives your landscape a finished look, too.


6. Use drought- and heat-tolerant lawn grasses.

Left: Prairie Dropseed, top right: Blue Oat Grass, bottom right: Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

Resilient grasses need less irrigation to stay healthy and green. You may also want to take a look at lawn alternatives, such as low-maintenance groundcovers, that look great with less supplemental watering.


7. Water to encourage deep root growth.

Pictured: Francis Williams Hosta

Shallow, frequent watering encourages shallow roots, which are more susceptible to heat and drought. Deep, infrequent watering encourages roots to go deeper, where they’re protected against heat and moisture loss.


8. Water early in the morning.

Pictured: Hansa Rose

When you water early, water can soak in instead of evaporating in the sun’s heat. Early watering is better for plant health, too. Wet leaves promote some fungal plant diseases. Water early and leaves dry well before evening comes.


9. Avoid overhead watering.

Pictured: Drip Irrigation systems at McKay Nursery

Overhead watering systems, including high-arching sprinklers, lose water to wind and evaporation, plus they leave foliage wet and vulnerable to disease. Use sprinklers with low trajectories or use drip irrigation instead.


10. Don’t leave irrigation systems on autopilot.


Monitor rainfall and adjust watering schedules to run only when needed. Consider using intervals that let water soak in between runs. Check heads regularly, and don’t water sidewalks and driveways. Send water to plants, not into streets.


With a landscape created around the water-wise life, you’ll have less maintenance, lower water bills, healthier plants and more time to enjoy the garden and landscape you’ve built. Shop our plants online for in-store pickup, local truck delivery, or Fed Ex delivery anywhere in the continental United States. Add to the water-wise beauty around you now.

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