TRENDS IN BACKYARD LANDSCAPING - #4 - WATER MANAGEMENT
Clean water is a finite resource and everyone must do their part to protect it. In some cases, the use of municipal water for irrigation is mandated with restrictions—often during periods of drought—to the point where outdoor watering is banned.
A well-designed irrigation system is still one of the best tools to optimize water usage in your landscape. In some communities, storm water is collected and redistributed for irrigation. There are many landscape design concepts that can be adopted to reduce your water use. For instance, reducing the amount of turf and replacing it with mulched mixed borders (site appropriate perennials and shrubs) is a good option. Once established, these borders do not require supplemental watering. This is referred to as ‘xeriscaping,’ but this term has been misunderstood to mean ‘gravel and cactus’ which may work in some climates, but ‘site appropriate plantings’ is the goal. This may include some native plants or other plants that are adapted to local growing conditions.
Rain gardens, mentioned previously, also help when water is scarce by ensuring whatever water falls on your property does not runoff, but rather goes into the ground where it is needed. Water harvesting such as rain barrels or more comprehensive underground systems can help capture rainwater for reuse later when rain is scarce.
An average 186 m2 (2000 sf) house will yield 4728 L (1040 gal) of water for every 25 mm (1 in.) of rainfall. Additional accessories such as pumps and equipment to filter the water can also be added. By increasing something as simple as the depth of the loam on a site can have a significant impact on the amount of water your property can hold before water runs off.
WHY HIRE A PRO?
Water management requires a holistic approach with the design of the entire site in mind, in particular drainage. A professionally designed planting plan will not only provide direction on appropriate plants for your property, but also ensure they are combined in an esthetically pleasing manor. This will ensure the right plant varieties, numbers, and locations are achieved.
Even if you do the planting yourself, this will ensure the garden functions as intended as it matures. Water harvesting systems are site specific and must be designed appropriately. The same can be said for irrigation systems. Therefore, hiring a qualified landscape designer is a good first step, as he/she can consult with other professionals as required.
A rain tank with a capacity of 1818 L (400 gal), and a footprint of 0.6 m (2 ft) wide, 2.1 m (7 ft) long, and 2.1 m (7 ft) high, is large enough to store rain from a partial roof during an average rainfall.
More comprehensive systems with pumps or underground storage can cost significantly more. From an economic standpoint, the best value is to design and install a system which minimizes supplemental watering where possible.
Originally published in Pools, Spas & Patios - 2017 Annual Issue.
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