I think we all are aware of the importance of water in our lives and that every living organism on earth requires a certain amount of it to exist. Those of us that live in the south become very aware of this during the dog days of summer with our temperatures reaching into the high nineties and just getting an occasional shower.
In developing our home environments there are many ways that we can achieve beautiful surroundings that serve our family needs and also protect this precious resource. One of the most efficient ways to accomplish this is by only developing a portion of the site. By this I mean that the site doesn’t have to be wall to wall turf or an ornamental botanical garden. Many project sites have areas that are wooded or in a natural meadow, these areas are flourishing without supplemental irrigation and can bring a beauty to the site that no amount of manicured plantings can.
I have been involved in many projects over the years where this principle was applied and have seen what can be achieved by working with the existing environment. A brief case study of one that I worked with recently was a client that was overwhelmed with her landscape and the maintenance it required. It was a very large site with a mature stand of woodland trees in the front yard. Her maintenance man was removing all the leaf litter and mowing the entire understory which was basically dirt and a few hardy sprigs of green. She had a landscape contractor to come take a look and he suggested they remove a portion of the trees and canopy so he could install turf and an irrigation system. We came up with a different game plan, we are going to let mother nature do her thing and let the natural leaf fall mulch the site.I also designed an understory of plantings that will handled the dry shady environment with only initial irrigation needed while the plantings establish. The end result will be a natural woodland garden that foregrounds the beautiful home with a fringe of manicured space around it. All this results in less water consumption and less time and money spent on maintenance, a win,win situation.