Rock yards and cactus are not the only solution to a water-wise landscape. Managing the amount of water used is also a factor. Most of Arizona receives very little rain each year; therefore people rely on municipal water for landscape plants and gardens. Selecting low water-use plants is important but managing what little rain falls can make a difference, too.
Rainwater harvesting is the process of catching and storing rain or creating a path for the water to find its way to trees, plants, or gardens. Watch how water flows on a property during a rain storm. Direct it in to storage barrels or cisterns with gutters and use it later. Slow the flow on hills or slopes by creating a slight ditch (or row) on contour to prevent soil erosion as well as allow the water time to settle into the soil.
When it rains automatic irrigation systems can be turned off, even if it is just for a day or two! Rain stored in barrels can be used as needed over a period of weeks or months depending on the quantity stored. Properly managed and stored rainwater in the desert can make a difference in an arid environment.
Check out the Landscape Water Guide and “Watering By the Numbers” to help you determine the irrigation needs of your landscape.
Our guest author this week is Doreen Pollack. She is a Master Gardener, a Permaculture Designer and the owner of Down 2 Earth Gardens. Doreen provides advice to homeowners on how to reduce the use and dependency of outside resources in their landscape. She specializes in working closely with do-it-yourself gardeners and people just starting to use their yard for food production and respite from their busy lives.