Today, more than ever, there is an increasing concern about conserving natural resources. Smart landscaping is one of the ways you can save money on your bills and conserve water and power. Let your yard do the work of maintaining itself without requiring costly resources. Here are several ways to use you landscaping to minimize expenditure and waste.
Xeriscaping is a system of landscaping that cuts down on the amount of supplemental watering necessary for maintenance, and sometimes eliminates it altogether. The first principle of xeriscaping is that any plants that are used should be native to the climate and therefore able to survive on the amounts of water that are naturally provided by the environment. For example, in California and Arizona, xeriscaping would involve using native desert plants that are able to live on the small amounts of rainfall each year. The type of soil used is also a factor. At times, compost or mulch will be used to retain moisture, or a gravelly soil may be more appropriate to certain types of plants.
2. Create a Patio
Instead of planting your front or back yard areas with grass or a lot of shrubbery, consider putting in a patio. This will be a one-time expense that will reduce the areas that need continuous watering or other types of maintenance such as pruning, resulting in a lower water and energy bill. For added benefits, choose patio materials that are easy to clean and maintain. This is an attractive alternative to planting shrubs, flowers or grass, all of which tend to be energy and labor intensive.
3. Reduce Grass
Rolling green lawns are the chief culprits behind many water bills. Especially in hot climates, grass can take excessive amounts of water to maintain a pristine appearance, and most people are reluctant to see their lawns turn brown and splotchy. There are many alternatives to maintaining a grassy lawn that will save watering as well as the energy and labor for mowing, seeding and other upkeep. Some lawns can simply be paved over, while a more elaborate option is installing a rock and gravel garden instead. Drought-resistant plants and shrubs can also provide a landscaped appearance while requiring minimal resources.
4. Plant Trees for Shade
Depending on your climate and your home’s location, your air conditioning could be working overtime for as much as half the year, sending your electric bill sky high. If this is the case, some careful tree planting can help you cut down your air conditioning needs. Plant shade trees that will protect the areas of your house that tend to heat first and most. If possible, choose trees that are native to your region and will not require excessive watering to thrive.
5. Tiny House
While many people find themselves embracing energy and resource efficient modifications to their usual lifestyle, the tiny house movement takes this idea a step further. In a nutshell, tiny house proponents advocate taking up as little living space and resources as possible. Tiny houses range from 400 square feet to as little as 80 square feet and are often built using found and recycled materials. These houses use far less water and resources than typical houses and have a smaller environmental footprint.
While not everyone is ready to reduce their living space to this extreme, principles from the tiny house movement can be useful in guiding homeowners to a way of life that maximizes conservation. Paring down the consumption of non-essential items and a habit of thinking about and evaluating the necessity of water and power expenditures can make a big difference in reducing bills and introducing efficiency measures.
6. Efficient Irrigation
Once you have reduced the need for irrigation as far as possible, check your existing system to ensure that it is not wasting any water. Sprinklers should be aimed properly so that water only lands on the area that needs it. If you notice that your sprinklers are generating spray and mist, this means that the water pressure is too high. Turn down the pressure to get larger water drops that will not drift off with the wind.
Shrubs, vegetables, flowers and other plants should not be served by sprinklers. Install an efficient drip irrigation system that will let water go straight to the roots without spraying leaves and flowers. Blooms and leaves do not need to be watered, and excess moisture can actually cause fungus and other diseases, in addition to wasting water. Another good and affordable alternative to sprinklers is using a soaker hose, which is more efficient than a sprinkler and, when strategically positioned, will meet your watering needs with up to 70% less water.
Whether you are using sprinklers or drip irrigation, or a combination of the two, timing is also an important factor. Set the sprinkler timer to early in the morning, so that the water is absorbed with minimum evaporation and without providing the breeding ground for pests and fungi that can result from night watering.
7. Cut Down on Fertilizers
Over-fertilizing can lead to dead plants and grass, can cost you a lot of money, and can upset the balance of the soil, making it harder to grow anything else. Instead, check your soil’s composition and balance, and only add nutrients as needed. Planting native species will also cut down on the need to modify your garden’s soil composition. Be aware of the natural cycles of your plants so that you know when it is normal for them to be dormant–this will help you avoid over-watering and over-fertilizing when it is not needed.
Many people are concerned with ways to maintain attractive landscaping around their house without spending exorbitant amounts of money. With increasing awareness of the need to save on water and energy, there are many options today for a landscape that will not drain your money. In fact, some of these useful features will continue to save money for years to come. The most efficient yard work options will depend on the location of your house, as well as the climate you live in. It is important to remember that even when the most efficient options may not be feasible, it pays to look for alternatives that can still reduce your bills significantly.