On this 95 degree day, you may want to think about replacing your plants with more eco-friendly choices that will require less water each week.
Some plants require water almost everyday. You don’t need to replace all of these plants, especially if they are your favorites. But you can substitute many of these problem drinkers with attractive drought-tolerant alternatives, that will require less watering year round, which is a great green step. Here are some examples of plants that require more water to stay away from, and some better choices.
You can also consider replacing some exotic plants with groups of native plants that will tolerate and thrive in your area’s year round weather conditions. Native plants are hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance, and will save you time and money by reducing the need for pesticides, fertilizer, and water. However, not all introduced species are bad garden choices, and some will adapt very well to your area, so you’ll need to do some research. A big bonus to planting a variety of native plants? They’ll provide a habitat for a variety of your favorite native wildlife, including birds and butterflies.
Trees Create Green Living
A thoughtful way to live a greener life is to make your landscape eco-friendly and plant trees. Planting a tree is one of the most immediate green steps you can take as trees absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen.
Canopy trees, and Deciduous trees that grow tall and full in the summer, will add shade to your home and help it stay cool in the summer months. They will also allow your home to absorb warm sun light in winter. In addition to being good for the environment, adding these trees to your landscape is an energy saving step that will lower the cost of cooling and heating your home.
Another group of trees to think about planting are Fruit bearing trees which will also absorb dangerous gasses while replenishing oxygen. A big plus in adding some fruit trees to your garden space? Your garden will become much more productive. While enjoying your favorite fruits and saving a little money at the grocery store, you can also donate any extra fruit you grow to those in need. Not only will you help others in your immediate community, but you’ll show by example how Green Living can give back, both locally and globally.
AOL’s DIY Life Network is GardenWise
I worked Francesca Clarke at AOL’s DIY Life Network on a feature story about creating green structures with trees and shrubs for privacy in your garden and outdoor spaces. There are many options available for all budgets and timelines, depending on how soon do you need a privacy screen from a neighboring home or structure and how quickly you want to block unwanted views. Pictured is a GardenWise garden in DC which includes Black Bamboo which serves as a screen.
You can read the story in its entirety here – http://www.diylife.com/2011/04/25/privacy-fence/
I recommend to my clients if they have the space is to off-set the shrubs you use for a privacy screen and consider using different heights for a more natural affect. Also, if a plant dies with staggered plant scheme along with the varying heights, the gap created by the dead plant is not so obvious. The back row should have the tallest plants that will create the screen. The middle row should have medium height plants, such as a smaller deciduous shrub such as an Annabelle Hydrangea, which will offer texture contrast and offer summer color. The front row should be composed of your shortest plants and evergreen ground cover, such as variegated Liriope, which is grass like and has the added bonus feature of a late summer spiky lavender colored flower. Another striking affect I like is to use the purple coneflower and the Russian sage against the pendulous white blossoms of the hydrangea will be smashing. Unity in an outside space is the best way to quickly provide a stimulating visual.
Flowers All Summer Long
By cutting your flowers vs. dead-heading, they’ll flower for more than double the time which will leave you with a garden space filled w/beautiful, colorful and scented blooms through summer. Here are some of my favorites:
Crocosmia: Pictured below, adds an exotic touch to your favorite home grown arrangements. This gladiolus relative bears clusters of bold red, orange, or yellow flowers that always seem to be the center of attention.
Yarrow: It’s beautiful and tough. In fact, this is one of the most maintenance-free perennials you can grow. yarrow resists heat, drought, deer, and rabbits. It’s also a blooming machine, producing flat-topped clusters of yellow, orange, red, pink, or white flowers throughout the summer.
Bearded Iris: Bearded iris (also called German iris) provides a striking vertical accent with its stiff sword-shaped leaves. Flower colors run the rainbow from deep Burgundy red to pastel pinks and yellows, to every shade of blue and violet and appear in late spring.
Blazing Star: A N.orth American native, blazing star has spikes of white, rose or purple flowers that attract butterflies; a great plant to add a vertical element to a garden. The blooms are ideal for cutting/drying.
Today’s Green Living tip falls into the Water Conservation category… recycle water by adding a rain barrel! Adding a rain barrel to your landscape is a pretty simple project that can be completed in a single day. Did you know a typical 1/2″ rain storm will fill a 50 gallon rain barrel, while a 1″ rainstorm produces 1/2 gallon of water per square foot of roof area? That’s a lot of water to recycle, and lot less water you’ll be paying for from you local water authority.
Rain Barrels come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and the uses are limitless — you can attach a standard garden hose to your barrel, or you can attach a soaker hose. You can also use your rainwater in your watering cans for your containers and pots. Because we love added bonuses here at GardenWise — here’s a good one: rain barrels reduce the amount of water around the foundations of your home.
A company I just started to work with, Gutter Supply, has a lot of options to choose from that will allow you to imagine how nicely you can incorporate a rain barrel into your landscape design.
Water Fountains are Gardenwise
When you think about your outside spaces, take it to the next level and add a water feature! Fountains and water features come in many interesting shapes and sizes and can deliver transforming results.
There’s something about water and the sight and sound of it trickling and tumbling over stones and splashing into a pool. It’s one of the most enjoyable and relaxing additions to any garden. When the sunlight sparkles and all the colors from your garden appear in the water’s reflection, you’ll be hooked! An added bonus? The birds you’ll attract with a fountain will make for a great natural pest control and improve the fertility of your soil. And with a good supply of water in your garden, they’ll eat less of your fruits and vegetables.
Below is a water feature I designed and installed — and here are more fountains
We’ve written a lot over the past two years about losing at least HALF of your lawn areas to create a “greener” more eco-friendly garden. Losing some of your lawns areas is a fantastic way to make your garden space less water needy — and it will introduce new options to make your landscape current and interesting.
Replacing lawn areas with ground covers is a great option I recommend everyone to consider. And remember that if you position numerous species of ground covers together in large groupings, it will add much drama to your space, in addition to both color and texture. Think about creeping Jenny for a sunny areas and Creeping mints for shadier spots. And trailing yellow dale and trailing Lantana.
What to really ramp it up? Bring your sense of smell into the mix and add a fragrant ground cover, such as Sweet Woodruff, to your garden space.
If in the end your heart belongs to grass, think about replacing your lawn areas with grasses and grass-like options such as pink mulhy grass, liliope, deschampisi caespitosa (aka tufted hair grass) or mondo grass.
You’ll need to water your grasses and ground covers adequately until they’re established, after that, depending on the type, you’ll find your ground covers require up to 100% less than your former lawn areas.