The Essential Elements of Water Saving Landscaping

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Water saving landscaping is the new way to beautify your property while conserving water and maintaining a healthy environment. For many savvy homeowners, it is fast becoming a way to be more in tune with conservation efforts.  For many it’s also a way to cut costs on utilities as well.

In this post, we will cover the essential elements of water saving landscaping that you need to know for success. These include using native plants, incorporating a management plan, and providing habitat for wildlife.

For those new to water conservation landscaping it may come as a surprise to find out that it’s more than just getting rid of your lawn and replacing it with landscape rocks or artificial turf.

Believe it or not, according to the crew over at, you can still have a beautiful landscape design and be a conservation hero too.

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Use Native Plants

One of the central elements of this type of landscaping is using plants and wildlife that are native to the area.  The idea behind this is that these types of plants are already built to thrive in the climate, making them less dependent on heavy watering or upkeep.  These types of plants also contribute to the overall health of the soil, which can really help the long term health of your landscape design.

Native plants also attract natural pest controllers so homeowners are less likely to need pesticides, making the whole area healthier and more self-sustaining.

Another great advantage to incorporating native plants into your landscape design is that they don’t require heavy watering.  Their roots burrow deeper into the soil and therefore help to prevent erosion and flooding.


If you are new to this type of landscaping, there are plenty of resources online that can help you learn more about plants that are native to your region.  You can also consult with local gardening clubs and organizations.

The Native Plant Center is a great resource for finding and researching local native plants. They have an extensive database that can help match your plant needs, climate, and site conditions with appropriate plants. You will find everything from ground covers and shrubs to trees and vines.

You’ll also find plenty of videos on Youtube that can help you learn more about what types of plants are native to your area.  You can find these by typing “plants native to (name of city, state)” and you will find plenty of examples.

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Efficient Irrigation

Aside from selecting native plants, another key feature in designing a water-wise yard is setting up an efficient irrigation system.  There are a variety of ways to achieve this.

One key thing to remember with water-wise landscaping is that it is better to water deeply but less frequently.  This promotes the growth of deep roots that allow plants to thrive with less water.  With this in mind, it’s important to understand how much water your plants need and how much water your irrigation system provides.

A great way to do this is by using a soil probe.  This tool allows you to test the moisture level of the ground and determine how much water your plants need on any given day.

The next step in designing an efficient watering system is testing the efficiency of it before planting anything with it.  You can do this by turning  your irrigation system on for a set period of time and measuring how much water is being delivered.  You can do this by taking measurements with buckets, bottles or cups to get an idea of the flow rate per 15 minute period.

Another important factor in saving water when landscaping is making sure you’re using efficient irrigation equipment.  These systems save tons of water without requiring tons of additional work.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is  an efficient way to water plants because it uses only the amount of water that is needed for each plant or section of your yard.  It works efficiently because it supplies water directly to the plant. On average, drip irrigation saves 50% more water than traditional overhead sprinklers do.

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Traditional Sprinklers

Traditional Sprinklers are great for covering large areas. If planned correctly, they can provide even and accurate coverage. They are most commonly used for lawns and shrubs and work well for this.  These types of sprinkler systems are not recommended for use on trees.  Trees need to be water less frequently than most of the plants in your landscaping, and for longer times.  This is because they have deep root systems that can best be reached through deep watering.

Strategic Planting

As you can see, water-saving landscaping takes a lot of planning.  From irrigation to plant selection, to every detail, planning is essential.  After selecting the plants you want to use, one of the other things you should think about when designing your landscaping is how to group plants together.

Yes, aesthetics is one way to group them.  But, you also want to make sure you group them together by how much watering they need.   For example, plants that need a lot of water should be grouped together and watered according to what they need.  Plants that only require occasional watering should not be in the same area as those plants because they will spend all their energy trying to compete for the scarce resource.


Hardscaping can also be used strategically to help with the overall water-wise design of your yard.  Hardscaping is the use of sidewalks, patios and other concrete elements to shape and define your outdoor space. The key is to minimize the amount of water you need by reducing the area that needs watering.  It also reduces the amount of landscaping that needs to be maintained.

Collecting Rainwater

Another key component that should be incorporated into your landscaping is the collection of rainwater.  Many municipalities offer free rain collection systems to residents as a way to encourage this eco-friendly practice.  If yours does not, not to worry.  Rain barrels can be found at most home improvement stores at reasonable prices.

Rain barrels collect rain water so it can be repurposed. This water can be used to water potted plants or a garden.  It’s easy and really does it all on it’s own.

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When it comes to saving water at home, you’ve got a lot of options. You can plant native plants in your landscaping that require less watering and fertilization. You could also use efficient irrigation systems or hardscapes like concrete to minimize runoff into storm drains.

Careful planning is important too.  Make sure all your low water zones are on the south side of your house so they get enough sun for proper growth! If any of these sound overwhelming, don’t worry- there are experts ready and waiting to help in your local area. Reach out to your local gardening clubs or community resources for support.