Water is a precious resource. Here are some basic principles to incorporate water saving features for your garden.
- Use of drought-tolerant and native plants. This is more obvious in arid regions that enjoy a Mediterranean climate with long dry spells during the Summer into Fall. The local plants in these regions do not die every year through lack of water, they are adapted to drought. Using native California plants and plants from similar climates (Southern Europe, Western Australia, South Africa, Chile) there is no need to irrigate heavily during the dry times of the year in these regions. Once native plants are established, native landscapes will normally be able to survive on natural rainfall only. For USA residents you can learn more about native plants local to your location by using the Native Plants Finder tool provided by the National Wildlife Federation https://www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder/plants
- Drip Irrigation. Newly planted shrubs will need extra water to get themselves established and some years rainfall is below average, so even in a drought tolerant landscape irrigation is required. The best watering method is drip irrigation, which is 50% more efficient in watering than traditional sprinkler systems that lose a lot of water due to evaporation and run-off. Drip irrigation can be installed on the surface of your plant beds and removed when your plants are established.
- Deep Infrequent Watering. Drought tolerant plants are adapted to dry period by establishing a large root system that allows them to draw water from deep underground in the cooler subterranean soil. If you give your plants frequent watering, they will not put much energy into growing their roots to find moisture and will be less likely to adapt a root structure that can sustain themselves should one be forced to stop watering due to local water restrictions. A properly maintained drought tolerant landscape can survive for months without water.
- Smart Irrigation Controllers. All water-saving landscapes should include smart controllers in the irrigation design. These controllers track weather patterns and soil moisture to automatically adjust your watering as needed. Many water companies offer customer rebates to offset the cost of these controllers.
- Stormwater BMPs. Stormwater BMPs are techniques for managing stormwater so that it can be retained on site to supplement your garden's irrigation regime. The simplest form of this is to use rain barrels that are connected to rain gutters to store rainwater for later use. Dry Creeks and Rain Gardens can also be used as focal points that also reduce water use for your garden.