Written by Miyo Fukuzawa, ESLLC 2016-2017
American families consume a huge amount of water each day, averaging on about 320 gallons a day. A huge portion of this goes towards watering lawns and gardens. Our gardening habits in the U.S. are certainly not friendly to the environment, especially for those who live in drier climates. The abundance and availability of freshwater varies greatly throughout the country, yet our water-guzzling lawn practices remain the same. Citizens are expected to keep a vibrant green lawn with the appropriate flowers and shrubs. However, pesticides and large quantities of water are often required to maintain this look. However, by simply planting appropriate and/or native plants, these issues can be avoided.
Native plants can grow in your garden without you ever needing to water them. Talk about low maintenance! They are accustomed to grow in your climate, so after you plant them, they will take care of themselves. Pesticides and frequent watering will be unnecessary! Research plants that are native to your area, you will be surprised at the beautiful flowers you will find.
By planting native, you are doing your local ecosystem a favor. your plants will attract wildlife native to your area, and help the species flourish. You will start to see all kinds of butterflies, birds, and insects in your yard. Additionally, you will be reducing the effects of invasive non-native plant species.
As for your lawn, consider planting a different ground cover or grass that is appropriate with your climate. There are several varieties of grass that are drought resistant and low-maintenance. You could also opt for a ground cover, a low growing plant that can spread across your lawn. Rock gardens are also a great option, and probably the lowest maintenance of all.
Of course, there will likely be times that your plants do require water, such as after transplanting. For situations like these, use a rain barrel! They are relatively inexpensive, and once installed, they require little maintenance. Simply fill up your watering cans at your rain barrel, or connect a hose.
Why guzzle water and go through endless labor when all you need to do is plant different plants? Save time, money, and the planet all at once.