How to Pick Plants for a Successful Water-Saving San Diego Landscape

Matilija poppies, or Romneya coulteri, have the largest flower of any other poppy. They are native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja and are good choices for successful water-saving landscapes. Photo by Kimberly Rotter via Pixabay

Ninth in a series republished with permission from San Diego County Water Authorityhis website.

To ensure a successful water conservation landscape, select your plants for each water use category to ensure you meet your water conservation goals. Focus on local native plants or plants from similar climate regions.

Once you have selected your plant types, there are additional important considerations.

Design for mature plant size: Allow enough room for the plants you choose to grow to their full size to avoid crowding or the need for excessive pruning.

Growing conditions: Choose plants suitable for microclimate, soil type and drainage to achieve optimal plant growth.

Tree Placement: Typically, a planting plan will include one or two trees for shade. Placing a deciduous tree on the south or west side of your home will shade your home during the summer to keep it cool and allow more light and sun exposure in the winter. Keep trees at least 10 feet from the foundation. In fire hazard areas, trees should be positioned so that the mature canopy is at least 10 feet from any structures.

Placement of bushes: Shrub and ground cover planting is usually planned at various heights. Medium-sized shrubs (three to four feet) are usually placed closer to the house to create a “foundation” or backdrop. Smaller shrubs are then placed in front of the foundation planting and low ground covers in the area closest to the sidewalk or road.

Accent shrubs can provide a unique texture, color or flowers. Place them to provide interest and focus views on locations in the landscape. Accentuate your entryway with special accent plants. This puts more emphasis on your entry, where you want visitors to be directed.

Be bold and have fun. Don’t be afraid to express your personal tastes.

Incorporation of higher water use plants

Water has been a precious resource throughout history in arid regions of the world. This perspective has been incorporated into the Mediterranean landscapes using water only in the most important areas.

If you have any high water-using plants that you particularly want to include, they can be used. Try to include no more than 10% water-intensive plants or water features in your landscape, so choose carefully.

Watersheds and water efficiency

If you choose to include plants that are not classified as very low or low water use, be sure to group those medium or high water use plants together. Grouping plants of similar water use together, known as planting in water zonesfacilitates efficient irrigation by allowing you to collect extra water only where needed.

Higher water-using plants should be on a separate irrigation valve so you can water them differently from the rest of the garden.

Mediterranean landscapes also historically used water elements for a pleasant and relaxing sound. The fountain’s water area will lose water at about the same rate as a cool-season lawn or other high water-using plant. By minimizing square footage of open water, a water feature can fit well into the water conservation landscape.

Minimize the use of turf

Limit the amount of turf in your design as much as possible. If you choose to incorporate turf, consider a warm-season turf that uses less water than traditional cool-season turf. Warm season turf, such as Hybrid Bermuda or UC Verde Buffalo Grass, thrives in the warm months of the year and naturally goes dormant in the winter. Another less thirsty grass to consider is Carex praegracilis or California Field Sedge.

The San Diego County Water Authority offers programs, resources and incentives to improve water use efficiency for residential, commercial and agricultural users. For more water efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.

How to Pick Plants for a Successful Water-Saving San Diego Landscape Source link How to Pick Plants for a Successful Water-Saving San Diego Landscape

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