Drought Resistant Landscapes
Over the past few summers in Victoria BC, there has been increasingly drier and hotter summers. Many lawns end up looking various shades of yellow and brown for months due to good water conservation. However, this is not an ideal long term solution. Here are a few landscape ideas that are more suited for this new trend.
Converting grass lawns to a paver patio is an excellent way to both conserve water, significantly reduce maintenance, and increase your property values and utility. A paver patio obviously requires no watering at all, ever. It also means more space for entertaining family and friends. Aesthetically, pavers won’t brown and go dormant for months at a time. For the wetter months, they won’t turn into a mud fest either. While the initial costs can seem high, in the long term they will cost far less as they will lower your water bill, reduce any need for irrigation systems that need to be installed and turned on and off every year for hundreds of dollars. They don’t need to be redone, at least not for a very long time. In terms of maintenance, a simple power wash and a few bags of sand will be sufficient once in a while. A good paver patio is built to last and is very durable at very low cost.
Avoiding Plants in Landscapes
The most obvious is to reduce the surface that is organic. There are various ways to do this. We can use covers such as mulch or rocks to paved surfaces like interlocking pavers. Patios can be expanded and extended to cover what was formerly grass. Small drought resistant bushes can be planted in lieu of grass interspersed with rocks or mulch to reduce water evaporation. New paths can be created made of pavers, stones, or rocks as well further reducing needs of vegetation. Essentially one would be transforming a landscape that was composed of water hungry plants to one that is more drought resistant and/or with fewer plants period.
There are ways to reduce water usage without necessarily making any major changes to one’s existing landscapes. One way to do this is to install a computerized irrigation system. Such an install would have very low impact on the yard with only small narrow trenches being dug in key areas. Modern computerized systems allows a most efficient use of watering, avoiding for example over watering, watering during the hottest times of the day, etc. By using a smart system to water your existing landscape, one can reduce water consumption that way without sacrificing the landscape features already there and have minimum impact during the install process.
Increasingly popular are rain catching systems. These are easy to install systems that catch the water from the vast surface of your roof, and rather than letting it run off through your downspouts, we intercept this water and collect it in giant barrels or drums. While this system is not going to be sufficient in long droughts, it can still save hundreds to thousands of litres of water from needing to be pumped out of your hose. A single rain barrel can hold two to three litres of water and when covered should keep out mosquito larvae.
Finally, there is the increasingly popular solution of artificial turf. These are long term solutions that allows your maintenance costs to essentially be reduced to zero while preserving the look and feel of an existing lawn all year round. Costing about the same as a paver patio, these surfaces are environmentally friendly, great for children and animals, and are long lasting. We wrote in detail about this new technology here.
Whether due to climate change or other reasons, it’s clear that we are seeing more and more hotter and drier summers here in Victoria BC. Whether it’s to preserve the look of existing landscapes or save money on your water bill, the above mentioned solutions are some possible ways to adapt to this new reality.