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Save Water with Good Landscaping Techniques

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Good landscape design hinges on one basic concept -
the right plant in the right place.

Careful planning and site evaluation are the first steps in applying this concept.Florida is a diverse state that includes multiple climatic zones. Soil types, temperature ranges and rainfall patterns differ dramatically from region to region. Different conditions often exist on the same property.

Monitor landscape service provider.
Review your landscape service and maintenance agreements to place a high priority on water conservation. Check when irrigation systems are operating to insure they are not watering sidewalks and driveways.

Choose the right plant for the right place.
Planting the right plant for each location, decreases the amount of water needed. When planning your landscape or garden, select and group plants according to their needs for sunlight and water. Obviously, plants in the full sun will require more water than those in shaded or partially shaded areas.

Select plants that require less water.
Many of these will likely be native plants. An additional benefit to using native plants is that they tend to attract wildlife. Many native plants survive only on rainfall. Native and other "climate appropriate" landscape materials can reduce irrigation water use by more than 50%.

Replace mowed landscaping with ground cover.
Plan the landscape with minimal use of grass. Only plant grass that requires watering and mowing where it is necessary for guest satisfaction. Replace grass with ground cover that requires less maintenance and less water. Try to eliminate small areas of grass, such as parking islands and areas between sidewalks and roadways. These are hard to maintain, require a lot of watering and may be replaced with mulch without losing any of the decorative appeal.

Fertilize appropriately.
Fertilize in moderation and only during the growing season. Use fertilizers that contain slow-release, water insoluble forms of nitrogen. Better yet, use organic compost.

Always mulch.
Mulching flower beds, shrub beds and trees has several benefits. It helps the soil absorb water, allows water to better penetrate plants root systems, reduces unwanted weed growth, and insulates plants from changes in temperature. As the mulch decomposes, the organic content of the soil is increased. Mulch also increases the attractiveness of areas.

Recycle yard waste.
Grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings can be recycled rather than thrown away. By recycling yard debris, we gain free mulch and return valuable nutrients to the soil.

Manage yard pests.
It is unrealistic and unwise to strive for an insect-free yard. Many insects are beneficial, helping to keep pests naturally under control. More and more communities and individuals are successfully managing pests by protecting beneficials and reducing the use of pesticides (known as Integrated Pest Management).

Provide for wildlife.
With more than 1,200 kinds of animals, Florida ranks third in the nation in wildlife diversity. Providing adequate food, water and shelter can increase the number and variety of species that live in your yard.

Maximize mulch.
Mulch keeps moisture in the soil, moderates soil temperature and reduces erosion and weeds. Keep a 2-to-3-inch layer of organic mulch over the roots of trees and shrubs and in plant beds. Create self-mulching areas under trees so leaves can stay where they fall. Use by-products or alternative mulches such as bark, or use recycled mulches when available in your community.

Techiques such as Permaculture or Xeriscape are very beneficial to help you plan for a sustainable landscape.  And don't forget to make your landscape productive -- by including food plants such as trees, shrubs, vines and even ground cover that produce a harvest of delicious nuts, berries or fruit.  By using organic fertilizing and integrated pest management techniques, you can produce some of our own delicious, healthful snacks and meals!

Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 1/9/2009

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