Posted on Aug 2, 2014

Principles of Water-Wise Gardening:
  1. Planning and design
  2. Soil preparation
  3. Appropriate plant selection
  4. Efficient irrigation
  5. Use of mulches
  6. Appropriate maintenance
 Landscape and irrigation plan should be done together to increase efficiency. Group plants with like water usage requirements. Determine water zoning for planning. Oasis area is typically the area immediately around the home – foundation plantings. This is the area that uses the most water. Transitional areas are away from the foundation, and more moderately drought tolerant plants can be incorporated. Xeric areas are farthest from the home, and plant material should be selected that has the most dependable drought tolerance.
Soil type will dictate the irrigation needs. Organic compost improves microbial activity making healthier soil, aiding in moisture retention and supplying nutrients to the plant material. Expanded shale improves drainage in heavy clay soils and provides space for oxygen movement. Apply approximately 3 inches of Organic Compost/Expanded Shale and work into topsoil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
To make appropriate plant selections, observe sunlight patterns for each area to be considered. Choose plants that have the correct day length and light requirements for the area being considered. For example, do not choose Impatiens for a very sunny west exposure. Locate trees to help cool and shade air conditioning units on southern and western exposure. This will help cut energy costs and water usage. Use shade tolerant plants in shady locations and irrigate only when needed. Note when the bed areas in full sun require irrigation. Turf areas need eight inches of soil to allow for deep penetration that can survive limited water and drought. Please use the Plant Selector located at: for help in selecting the correct plants for your needs.
Efficient irrigation stems from developing an irrigation plan in conjunction with a landscape plan. Always accommodate the needs of the plant. Proper planning may eliminate the need for irrigation; many plants can survive long drought periods without supplemental irrigation if placed in the proper environment and planted correctly. Make sure your irrigation has no overspray in normal wind conditions. Zone like water-use plant material. Don’t water the sidewalk. This is probably one of the biggest wastes of water; please adjust your sprinkler heads.
Mulch, Mulch and Mulch. This can add so much value to the landscape. Mulches can be organic or inorganic. Mulch will slow evaporation, help prevent water robbing weeds, help to maintain soil temperature and look attractive. Do not apply too high on plant trunks as this can lead to fungus and molds. Organic mulches such as hardwood, pine bark, cedar and cypress should be applied at approximately 3 inch levels and will decompose adding organic material to the soil and increasing microbial activity.
Appropriate maintenance will insure a Water Wise landscape. Maintenance programs should include aeration of mulched beds and turf areas, mowing frequently at the proper height, removing only 1/3 of the leaf blade at each mowing, regular inspection of irrigation system and heads, resetting irrigation system for current weather and ensuring plants remain healthy. A healthy plant will stress less and typically use less water. 
Information courtesy of Calloway's Nursery ©2014,