Landscape Designing Around Water Restrictions

As we watch the Sun Belt’s water problems develop over time, we see varying responses to the issue. There is denial and acceptance, large expansive lawns in weird and inappropriate locales and some encouraging looks at adaptation in using more native plants as well as innovative and more miserly irrigation systems, servicing all this. It is called embracing reality.

Some projects have a certain stark beauty in being left sparsely-planted, if done right:

(click any image to enlarge hugely)

Other aspects then come into play, such as rocks or other features like mounding or even in representing a desert climate with – who knew? – a desert look!

The above and below pictures will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea. Naturally, the plants here did and will get a bit larger, depending on how they are fed and maintained, but this particularly severe example of design is probably on the sort of “lunatic fringe” of acceptable for many people who have other ideas for landscaping. However, this particular place offers a minimum of maintenance and most definitely a piddling amount of water cost for a season. Indeed, this one uses barely any water at all. Overall, it does have a consistent theme and it does have the Feng Shui of meandering paths leading to new visualizations and the imaginary prospects of weather events like running water inside the dry creek beds. (which, I might add, are actually functional for that very reason).

On the lusher end of the scale, once again we confront ourselves with the mathematical certainty of water use in terms of quantity. Let’s use this picture as an example for what to expect from a garden at its maturity:

If you enlarge this picture, aside from all else that might gain attention, there are approximately 30 plants in all requiring water. 4 of them – the trees -require double of what the shrubs require. Some of the perennials, one half of that. Essentially, we have placed 2 gallon per hour emitters under the ground, feeding the roots of all the shrubs. Because of the far larger root bases, the trees have 2 – 2 gallon per hour emitters. The perennials all have a one GPH emitter. When this landscape was first run, we ran it for 20 minutes, twice a day, and we felt extravagant. Therefore, this particular section used up about 40 gallons of water per day, less than a bath. The entire yard – and it is rather park-like and large – used up about 200 gallons a day, the truth is. Having said that, this is hardly a normal place inasmuch as it was a higher budget scenario. Just the same, even using 200 gallons per day, we found we were able to cut the times when it was cooler and adjust it upwards for the heat. That amounts to 4 baths, according to the standard of 50 gallons in a bathtub.

Below is a more normal sized yard. I often feature this landscape because it was one of our best, in my opinion and also because, in many ways, our most successful adaptation to using less water than ever before. This one features perennials, most noteworthy. They tend to do marvelous things with little care and they also tend – depending on the species – to require less water in general.

This one, all-in-all, is a “2 Bath affair”. We used rock mulches to keep the moisture in and to shade the water access to prevent evaporation and to hold the humidity tightly within the plants’ parameters.

Another look. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This project is a water-saver deluxe, actually, in spite of its rich look. My point in all this – and it always is – is that water, placed judiciously and correctly, can be delivered in small enough quantities to be nearly insignificant. Not only are we being responsible citizens by using less water, but we get our cake too! Andย  not only are we saving a precious resource, but we pay less “at the pump” as it were.

Here are just a few other 2- and 3- bath a day watering spectacles:

This one is the under side of –

This one –

That’s about it today. Drink your water!!ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

5 thoughts on “Landscape Designing Around Water Restrictions

  1. Wow, you’ve created some beautiful landscapes. And adapting them to the realities of the region is brilliant and responsible. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks, Avis and Sue. It is just the right thing to do. The funny part is, we lose nothing – in fact, good designers and good installers like myself gain by adapting responsibly. You get to play a bit more!

  3. Great photos and insight to more waterless garden themes. How many people would even consider this on their own. It’s great that someone thinks of this stuff for us. I’m not so good with the actual landscaping, but I do enjoy decorating and adding accessories to my own garden. Visit for some outdoor ornament ideas…………and drink your water.

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