Water-Wise Shrubs

Many commonly planted shrubs are water-wise. Unusual or native water-wise shrubs are increasingly available at garden centers.

Some characteristics that help shrubs reduce water loss include deep taproots, waxy leaf coatings, and light colored and small leaves.

General Characteristics of Shrubs

  • Woody stems and branches
  • Single trunked or multi-stemmed
  • 1.5 to 10’ tall when mature
  • Flowers, summer and fall foliage, and bark provide visual interest
  • Often long lived
  • Generally easy to grow

Use in the Landscape

  • Provide a backdrop for

Water-Wise Perennials

A water-wise perennial is a plant which, once established, requires infrequent watering (usually less than two times per month) while retaining its aesthetic value. Keep in mind that a perennial considered water-wise in the Northeastern US may not be water-wise in the Southwestern part of the country.

Water-wise perennials are becoming more popular and are available in many commercial venues from large chain store suppliers to independent plant retailers allowing for a wide range of choices appropriate for the local …

Using Bedding Plants in the Landscape

The main purpose of using bedding plants in the landscape is to provide lasting color throughout the growing season. A bedding plant can be an annual, biennial, or perennial plant.

Some basic guidelines to follow when choosing bedding plants:

  • Look for plants that provide color accent for your existing landscape
  • Use annual plants to fill in “holes” while perennial plants become established
  • Avoid too many different varieties of plants
  • Flower beds should be prepared before purchasing your plants
  • Plan

Water-Wise Traditional Garden Styles

Many landscapes throughout the United States have been adapted from English, Spanish, French and Italian garden styles. American landscapes continue to evolve toward a more sustainable water-wise tradition but there is still a long way to go.Many contemporary styles of gardens and lawns are derived from English landscape gardens and cottage gardens.

English Landscape Gardens

  • Large areas of turf
  • Masses of annual flowers
  • Highly maintained
  • Designed to look ‘natural’
  • Found mainly on large estates

 English Cottage Gardens

  • Lots of

Diversity Encourages Landscape Sustainability

Diversity and Why it is Important

Diversity in biology is referred to as biodiversity. This includes the diversity of plants, animals, and their habitats as well as their genetic diversity.

Habitat loss is currently considered the most important threat to biodiversity. Habitat loss includes development for housing and other human activities that disturb and fragment native habitat.

Diversity of life acts as a buffer against disease and other pests. Genetic diversity protects against species loss as well. Higher diversity …

Invasive and Noxious Plant Problems

An invasive plant is ” an alien species (non-native) whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”

Highly invasive plants that are threats particularly to agricultural production and clog waterways are considered ‘noxious‘.  These plants are highly regulated and are illegal to buy, sell, or grow.

Why are invasive and noxious plants a problem?

According to the United States Forest Service invasive and noxious weeds are a problem for …

Design Features of Native Landscapes

The use of native plants in the landscape is becoming increasingly popular. Native plants are adapted to local conditions and, if planted properly, can thrive on sites non-natives may not tolerate. This can reduce the need for additional pesticides and fertilizers.

A common misconception is that native plantings end up looking like a weed patch, however, garden beds can be attractively arranged using basic design principles.

Native plants can be grouped into clumps or drifts to create a more …

Water Conserving Groundcovers for Shrub and Perennial Beds

Groundcovers are simply plants that are used to cover an area of bare ground. Although groundcovers are generally considered creeping or spreading plants, other plants, when planted densely enough, can be used in the same fashion.

Water conserving groundcovers can be herbaceous perennials or woody plants and generally are less than 24 inches in height.  They can have interesting textures, colors, and flowers. Space appropriately to create the desired effect.

Use of Groundcovers

Groundcovers are a great way to visually …

Water-Wise Annuals

Water-wise annual plants can provide bold color and texture in the landscape all summer. Water-wise annuals are available in many colors and flower types and sizes. Annuals are useful for filling in bare spots during perennial establishment. They can be used as bedding plants or in pots and hanging baskets.

Annual Plants

An true annual is a plant whose complete life-cycle occurs in one growing season and then dies. Many plants sold in areas where frosts and freezes occur are …

Water-Wise Vines

Water-wise vines can be a valuable addition to the landscape. They can be used to provide vertical or horizontal accents and are a great choice for small areas. Vines can be grown on fences, trellises, walls, arbors and other structures.  In fact, vines will grow over just about anything and can cover undesirable surfaces.  Vines can also be trained for the homeowner’s desired effect.

Vines can provide shade, food, colorful flowers, interesting leaf texture, wildlife habitat, and can create a …