Water Wise Ornamental grasses are an essential part of all landscapes. Adding winter interest, texture, and form to the landscape. With a wide selection of color and height there are ornamental grasses to complement any need, or theme. Ornamental Grasses are generally cut down in the early spring to allow winter interest and insure the health of the grass. Below is a countdown to this summers must have ornamental grasses:
By using simple concepts that conserve water in our landscapes we can cut our water usage in half or in some cases up to 80%. This is possible and will actually improve the health of your plant material especially your beautiful lawns. These concepts consist of 6 basic principles: 1. Hydro-zone the sprinkler system, 2. Plant Selection, 3. Shrink the turf. 4. Proper/smart irrigation techniques, 5. Soil quality, and 6. Use of mulch.
1. Hydro-zone the sprinkler system. Grouping plant material in the landscape based on water needs is called Hydro-zoning. Zoning plants this way is beneficial in that each zone gets the amount of water the plants in that zone need, instead of watering the entire area based on the plants with the highest water needs. This can be done with out a complete over haul of your sprinkler system by replanting plant material according to water needs adjusting your irrigation controller programs to water differently based on each hydro-zone or installing a smart irrigation controller.
2. Plant Selection. Choose plants that require less water and are more drought tolerant. Plants are rated according to high, moderate, or low water usage. Moderate and high can be used in water-wise landscapes, but the majority of plant material should be in the low water range.
The smell of fresh greenery is a part of Christmas. A great place to find that greenery could be found in your own landscape making a great holiday season DIY. These can be used to create: wreaths, garlands, wags, topiaries, mini trees and decorative hanging balls.
- Collecting greenery means that you will be pruning your plants. Follow proper pruning techniques including: making the cut close to the conjoining branch, choose branches carefully so as to not leave bare areas, and use clean sharpened equipment.
- Other items from your landscape can also be used such as: pinecones, acorns, berries, seed pods, rose hips, twigs/ branches, and chestnuts. Pinecones can be lacquered to prevent seed release.
- Be cautious of berries selected as many are poisonous to children and pets including: mistletoe (extremely toxic), holly, yew, ivy, bittersweet, and Jerusalem cherry.
The last few years the national drought is the highest it has been in centuries. We waste anywhere from 30% - 80% of our precious and quickly waning resource of water on our landscapes. The number one thing a home owner can do to conserve water is to install a smart irrigation controller or begin hand watering your landscape. This is because no matter what plant material we have we are prone to over water it as a precaution. With hand watering we see the actual needs of the plants more, don’t water when it rains, and have to take the time to go out and water. With smart irrigation controllers they do it all for you by measuring weather conditions to know when the plant material actually needs irrigated. There are several smart controllers to chose from and should be considered based on individual needs and landscape requirements.
Another way to save water is by simply choosing plants that use less water in our landscapes.
Grass is by and large the area that most of our landscape water is wasted. The average lawn consists primarily of Kentucky Blue Grass and can handle higher amounts of water without showing signs of stress. Also because of its herbaceous nature it is one of the first plants in our landscapes to show damage from lack of water. Kentucky Blue Grass is a cool season grass. Cool season grasses, as there name suggests, grow best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. They are characterized by deep greens, soft texture, frequent mowing, and vigorous growth/spreading. They have longer green periods but also require more frequent fertilization. Without irrigation during the hot summer months cool season grasses will not have enough water to stay green and will “brown up”. These grasses also have a high risk of dying and becoming patchy in drought years where warm season grasses would not. Cool season grasses handle traffic much better than warm season grasses especially during the spring, fall, and winter.
The proper use of mulch has many benefits: It can enhance the beauty of your landscape, suppress the germination and spreading of weed seeds, aid in soil moisture retention, and provide some protection to plant material against traffic heavy lawn equipment etc. What kind of mulches are best to use, and which should we avoid?