“Ask Kari” is a monthly, Question & Answer feature from Kari Negri. Kari has two decades of property management experience, is a featured speaker at many industry trade shows, such as AAGLA’s annual trade show, and is the founder and CEO of SKY Properties, Inc. in Los Angeles.
This month’s question comes from Brandon in Los Angeles: “Hi Kari, how do you save water on landscaping without sacrificing curb appeal?”
Hi Brandon! Your question is perfect for what California is experiencing with the terrible drought situation. Here are my top water saving landscaping tips:
Why thinking through proper landscaping is important in California
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in California. The least amount of rainfall has fallen in California’s 163-year history this season, “We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation.”
What to consider when thinking about your California landscaping
Whether we call it water-conserving landscaping, drought-tolerant landscaping, smart scaping or xeriscaping, we’re talking about strategies to apply long-term water conservation to landscaping. It comes down to water consumption balanced with aesthetics. If you are making changes to your current landscaping, or putting in something new, you might consider California native, drought-tolerant plants. Of the list of California native plants, many landscapers utilize succulents as they are accustomed to higher temperatures and lower precipitation, which forces them to collect and store water to survive long dry periods. They not only add to the beauty of your landscaping, but some species host butterflies and other pollinators. Here is a list of California native succulents you might consider:
Giant chalk dudleya, Britton’s dudleya
Feather River stonecrop
Red Mountain stonecrop
Other California Native drought tolerant plants include:
Ceanothus, Mountain Lilacs
Mulch and other complimentary ground covering
Mulch is applied to soil at the surface level. It is great for preserving moisture, providing nutrients to the soil, and can reduce growing weeds. You can put it in your flowerbeds and incorporate it into your overall landscaping. There are many types of mulch including organic, compost, rock and gravel. Tree bark, pea gravel, rocks, shells, sawdust and wood chips are some of the most common types of mulch.
Sprinkler timers and hydrozones
If you are not on a drip system, make sure your sprinklers aren’t sending water down the street and into the storm drain. Check that you are watering less in the winter, and that your sprinklers are aligned properly to avoid hitting cement walkways, streets or walls. For lawn covering, you can check moisture levels by pushing a screwdriver six inches into the soil. Also, be sure to group plants based on their water demands. These hydrozones make your irrigation plan much more water efficient and are healthier for the plants.
Links to visit for more information
1. Los Angeles Department of Public Works’ top ten list of California native and drought tolerant plants and shrubs: http://ladpw.org/epd/sg/plants.cfm
2. Additional list of California native drought tolerant plants: http://www.laspilitas.com/garden/drought.html
Thank you for your question, Brandon. I hope I’ve given you some good tips on conserving water while implementing a beautiful landscaping plan! www.GetSky.net