Along with the good outdoor watering and maintenance habits, another way to keep summertime water bills under control is to use native and drought-tolerant plants in your landscaping. Called xeriscaping (pronounced “zeriscaping”), this practice can help you save time and money in the garden. Here are some basic xeriscaping principles:
- Replace water-intensive grass with bark or drought-resistant grass. Grasses that require little water include Zoysia, Maiden Grass, Indian Grass, Autumn Moor Grass, and turf-type Tall Fescue. Check with your lawn and garden store to see if they carry these varieties or can order them for you.
- If you enjoy having a lawn, make it small and place it close to your house where you will get the most use of it. Then, water your lawn only as often and as much as necessary, using the tips described in the section above. Remember, if the grass springs back when you step on it, there’s no need to water. Lawns grow better when they’re watered deeply and less frequently.
- Trees are excellent choices for xeriscaping because they require little water and help prevent evaporation by shading your yard. Here are some trees that are good candidates for a water-saving landscape: Flowering Magnolia, Weeping Larch, Mock Orange, and Vine Maple. (Note: When placing trees adjacent to city streets, please follow the City of Springfield’s guidelines for appropriate species.)
- Bushes and shrubs can be both attractive and practical. Look at the varieties that have been naturally successful in your yard and use those as a guide for adding new plants and removing water-intensive bushes. Some suggestions for good xeriscaping flora include sword fern, Blue Carpet Juniper, lilac, and Spring Flowering Heather.
- Plant flowers not just for their attractiveness but for their ability to use water efficiently. Here are some good examples of flowers that will brighten your yard but keep your water meter quiet: Siberian Iris, lavender, Sunset Cosmos, and yarrow.
- Check with local garden shops for additional xeriscaping options. Plant with a plan in mind to avoid replanting or invalidating the water-saving properties of the grasses, trees, shrubs, and flowers.
- Group plants with similar water needs together to simplify watering and avoid using too much water.
- Place plants with higher water needs in areas where water drains naturally, such as in depressions or at the bottom of a hill.
- Place a layer of mulch around trees and plants. It slows evaporation and discourages weed growth.