7 Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Tips for a Greener Yard This Summer


Maintaining a beautiful yard is a point of pride for many homeowners. From keeping the grass mowed to planting flowers and manicuring shrubbery, a lot goes into keeping a yard up to standard.

For households that experience the occasional drought, the need to conserve water can take a significant toll without drought-tolerant landscaping. Providing a lawn with one inch of water requires around a half gallon per square foot or about 62 gallons for every 10′ by 10′ area. This means that if you live in a hot climate, you may be pouring hundreds of gallons – and, consequently, hundreds of dollars a month – into your yard. Not to mention, drought risk areas don’t have the luxury of using excess water.

ways to conserve water
Image via Robert V/Flickr

But there are actually lots of ways to conserve water outdoors. By adding drought-tolerant landscaping, you can save thousands of gallons of water and still maintain a healthy yard and garden. Here are seven easy steps to get started:

1. Fix Outdoor Leaks to Prepare for Droughts

Effective use of water relies on your own practices but can also be attributed to proper maintenance. Whether you know it or not, pipes, spigots, hoses, sprinkler tubing, and other components of a watering system can develop weaknesses and, consequently, leaks.

Periodically, take time to inspect your tools, looking for signs of issues. A slow-dripping faucet alone can cost hundreds of dollars a year in water expenses, so keep an eye out for any leaks or other problem areas to avoid wasting money on water you’re not even using.

2. Add a Drought-Tolerant Greywater System

After you wash your hands or do the dishes, where does the water go? That’s right – it goes right down the drain. That is unless you put it to good use.

You may be wondering, what is greywater?

Greywater refers to wastewater from non-hazardous applications like washing hands, taking a shower, or any non-toilet-related use. This water is too contaminated to be used for any sterile application but it is perfectly useful for things like watering lawns when properly treated. The components in this water that make it seem dirty are actually beneficial as fertilizer, stimulating plant growth.

If you have access to greywater in your area, taking advantage of it can be an excellent way to keep costs down while helping the environment. To get started with greywater:

  1. Explore city ordinances to ensure greywater use and collection is permitted
  2. Partner with a plumbing contractor to help create a device that accurately collects and applies greywater in a way that makes sense for your property
  3. Consider investing in a three-way valve to make it easy to divert water between greywater collection and your septic system
  4. Determine whether you want to use greywater with an irrigation system, like mulch basins, or through a hose for normal watering

3. Invest in Drought-Tolerant Xeriscaping

Pronounced “ZIRA-scaping,” this is a form of landscaping designed especially to withstand a drought. This process utilizes sustainable alternatives to traditional plants to reduce the need for watering property. Very popular in hot dry climates, like in Arizona or New Mexico, xeriscaping maintains property values and creates a beautiful appearance for your front or backyard without standard flowers, bushes, greenery, or varieties of grass. Components frequently used in xeriscaping include:

  • Stones and pavers
  • Cactuses
  • Mulch
  • Gravel
  • Species of grass like bluegrass
  • Succulents

Xeriscaping is not a water-free endeavor, but the right tactics can reduce or nearly eliminate the need for regular watering which makes it ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes. When design focuses on effective irrigation as well as a beautiful layout, it’s possible to use limited watering to achieve beautiful results. If you’re looking to add even more life to your yard, services like Xtreme Green can increase the curb appeal of your lawn during the dry season.

Front yard of home with xeriscaping plants for hot climates and dry weather

4. Evaluate Saturation to Avoid Wasting Water

The last thing you want for a drought-prone area is wasted water. Some yards will absorb water efficiently. However, if your property easily becomes oversaturated, watering your lawn may result in wasted water.

Overwatering your yard can result in damage to your lawn as well as an unnecessarily high water bill. Instead of assuming your lawn is properly absorbing the water you are providing, take time to evaluate during the process.

As you water, watch carefully for any water pooling. If this occurs, immediately cease watering until water pools have disappeared.

5. Conserve by Watering at the Right Time

When it comes to watering, all time isn’t made equal. There are absolutely better times to water your grass, so do your best to plan to water when it’s most effective. Keep these tips in mind to make the most of your water usage:

  • Schedule watering in the morning when the weather is cooler. In the middle of the day, when the sun is at its highest point, water evaporates much faster.
  • Avoid watering at all in very hot weather with prolonged dry spells. Your grass will bounce back when climate improves.
  • If you have to water later in the day, find time between the hours of 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM when the temperatures begin to drop.

Watering plants less frequently to conserve water during droughts

6. Gather Rainwater During Non-Drought Seasons

If you live in an area that gets sporadic rain throughout the winter season, collecting rainwater can be a huge benefit. By placing bins at the base of gutter spouts, you can tap into an essentially free supply of water, allowing a low-cost way to keep your lawn looking it’s best.

Some collection buckets even feature attachments for hoses, making it extremely easy to transition from collection to use. Even if you need to supplement with a standard water line, this can still help you save in an eco-friendly manner.

Note that some states and cities maintain laws related to rainwater collection so do your due diligence before investing in this alternative. Water collection vessels are available in a wide range of sizes so be sure you take time to learn more about average rainfall for your area.

7. Consider Drip Irrigation to Conserve Water

For those who feel strongly about an irrigation system, a drip irrigation system is among the best options to reduce the likelihood of wasted water. This form of irrigation system utilizes a network of thin hoses placed within the ground of your yard. These hoses can then disperse water directly into the soil itself – exactly where you need it most.

In general, however, an irrigation system is not necessary, particularly for a residential property. Conventional irrigation systems only extend to limited areas and tend to result in overwatering. If you don’t already have an irrigation system and have no specific reason to get one, it’s best not to do so.

Minimizing water usage during a drought can be inspired by a passion for the environment or simply a desire for frugality. No matter the reasons that motivate you, conserving water with drought-tolerant landscaping can help you cut down on your bills while doing what’s right for the planet.

What are some of your favorite ways to conserve water? Share in the comments!

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Crack or Canyon? When is it Time for Driveway Repair?

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Sometimes it’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. Other times, like when your driveway is starting to show some wear, you might instead try to make a crack out of a canyon. It’s not that you don’t want to make a driveway repair, but often it’s hard to know when the time is just right. So, how can a homeowner know for sure?

Wear and Tear on a Driveway is Normal

It’s not unusual to see a few small cracks or pits in the surface of your driveway as it ages. Asphalt, especially, pits, cracks, heaves, alligators and buckles. Cement, on the other hand, mostly just cracks. Other types, like specialty driveways made from bricks or pavers are best to always be assessed by a professional, so it might not be a bad idea to have one out yearly.

For the rest, you can probably tell when it’s getting close to time to dress the drive up again.

But it’s not just a cosmetic improvement, repairing your driveway stabilizes the pavement or slab itself in many cases. Asphalt is much more plastic than cement, so unless the cracks are small in your cement drive, expect a big job.

Asphalt can often be restored from a sad shape, so long as most of the surface is intact and it’s not badly buckled.

When to Patch and Repair Asphalt Driveways

Choose a warm day when it’s going to be dry for a bit. Also, make sure you can move your vehicle elsewhere, either to the street or to a neighbor’s driveway for the next two days so the new sealant can dry. You should evaluate it yearly, but anticipate only really needing repairs every three to five if you’re dedicated to preventing water damage to the surface with proper use of gutters and other precipitation diverters.

Between resealing, patches and repairs, scrub the surface regularly with mild dish soap and warm water to help keep your driveway at its best. It should look slick and black and maybe even a little bit shiny. When it starts to look more dried out, keep an eye out for other changes or plan to reseal it in the very near future. A nice black driveway always looks its best, anyway.

Repairing and Patching Cement Driveways

Cement driveways are a bit of a different story. Some cracks can be sealed by a homeowner with simple tools, others cannot. It’s not always clear how extensive the damage is when you’re experiencing extensive cracking or have areas that are no longer flush with the rest of the surface, so this is definitely a job for an experienced handyman or driveway expert.

There are several interesting new technologies that are being used to lift cement pads back into place with materials like polyurethane foam. It’s really something to see! Although not available everywhere, the technology can salvage some driveways that would otherwise have to be busted out, hauled off and repoured, a process that can be a real headache.

You can clean your cement driveway with a power washer if you know how to use one very delicately so that you don’t remove the thin surface coat. Otherwise a driveway brush, mild detergent and a hose will do the trick for regular cleanings.

When in Doubt, Call a Pro

There are a lot of parts of your property that leave lots of room for error. Your driveway isn’t one of them. If you have any doubts about your ability to evaluate, repair, replace or even handle the materials required to do so, call in a pro. But where do you find one?

Just check your HomeKeepr community! Your Realtor already knows the best companies in town for your driveway type and can recommend them to you with a click of a button. Your HomeKeepr community always has your back, often from your back pocket!

Confidence and security come from inexpensive driveway inspections, and HomeKeeper is the best place in town to find the team for the job.

Grow beautiful roses using both ordinary and unusual soil amendments

 June 7, 2019
Houzz Contributor. Horticulturist, freelance writer and Certified Arborist who loves...More
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I’ve had a love affair with roses since I was a little girl, when I used to help my dad take care of the rosebushes in our Southern California front yard. Now that I have my own garden with more than 40 rosebushes, I’ve learned that adding a few ordinary amendments, as well as a couple of unexpected ones, to the soil will maximize roses’ health and blooms.

Robo Lawnmowers: Like a Roomba for Your Lawn

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Robotics and automation have changed the way that a number of things work in the home. You may not realize that you can automate tasks outside of the home as well. Though they have not received as much attention as home automation sensors and digital assistants, robotic lawn mowers are starting to change the way that people approach lawn care. Modern robotic lawn mowers were introduced only in recent years, but the devices have a longer history than you might think.

Introducing the MowBot

Believe it or not, the first robotic lawn mower was actually created and patented in 1969. Dubbed the MowBot, the robotic device was self-propelled and capable of making random turns within an area defined by a signal wire that was used to create a boundary. Though the battery-powered device was primitive compared to today’s robotic lawn mowers, the approach it took to lawn maintenance wasn’t that far off from how today’s devices work. It had some staying power as well, as MowBot Inc. is still producing robotic mowers today that are more modern takes on the original MowBot functionality.

The Modern Robotic Lawn Mower

While robots like the MowBot persisted since the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the more modern style of robotic lawn mowers began to emerge. A solar-powered mower was developed in 1995 by Husqvarna, and this was followed in the next 10 years by other niche robotic lawn mower designs. Smaller-scale robotic mower releases occurred in the United States and the UK in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the first widespread commercial release of a robotic lawn mower occurred. Interestingly, these mowers used the same sort of signal wire that the MowBot had combined with a few more modern features.

The market has taken off in the time since then, with a variety of solar-powered and self-charging robotic mowers hitting the market with innovations such as programmability, autonomous obstacle avoidance and even the ability to program or control the mower remotely from a smartphone or similar device. Some modern robotic mowers are even designed to only trim a small section of the grass blades at a time, opting instead to mow more frequently (often without any input from their owners) to keep the lawn in optimal shape.

Benefits of Robotic Lawn Mowers

Robotic lawn mowers offer a number of benefits over traditional push mowers or riding lawn mowers. A few of the benefits of these mowers include:

  • Electric-powered robotic mowers reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions
  • Smaller, more frequent cuts prevent excessive strain on your lawn that could result in browning or other damage
  • Lightweight units that use random movements while cutting the lawn prevent damage caused by mowing in the same pattern repeatedly
  • Electric units with smaller motors significantly reduce noise pollution while cutting
  • The mulching action of robotic lawn mowers recycles clippings to feed your lawn throughout the year

Other benefits of using a robotic lawn mower include increased free time, more consistent lawn heights and the elimination of the dangers of injury created by the traditional lawn mower.

Rise of the Robots

Though once a niche market, robotic lawn mowers have seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years. Models can range in price from $400 to $3,500 or more, with higher-end models offering greater coverage and more programmability features. Robotic lawn mower sales are growing at a faster rate than sales of traditional mowers, with analysts believing that robotic mower sales will continue to increase by approximately 11 percent each year through 2024. As new mowers are designed and related technologies such as home automation develops, sales rates could increase even more.

These ideas for perimeter planting can boost your home’s curb appeal with more color, personality and seasonal interest

 June 10, 2019
Houzz Contributor. Landscape designer, a former garden editor for Sunset Magazine...More
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It’s easy to forget about planting areas that fall outside of what we typically think of as a front yard. However, planting the skinny street-side area beyond the perimeter fence, or the parking strip next to the sidewalk, can both boost your home’s curb appeal and act as a gift to the neighborhood. 

If you’re searching for inspiration for sidewalk plantings, take a look at these nine gorgeous gardens that extend all the way to the street, welcoming visitors and greeting neighbors with colorful plantings and seasonal blooms.