Woodland Gardens

Why create a woodland garden?  If planned correctly, woodland gardens can be attractive, lower maintenance additions to the landscape. They can include existing woodlands enhanced with selective thinning or new understory plantings designed from scratch.

Woodland gardens can provide valuable wildlife habitat, create cool areas in summer, and reduce maintenance and lawn needs.

A woodland garden can be a type of naturalized area or a more formal parkland area that includes trees and ground cover. Many city parks could …

Parking Strips: Water Conserving or Weed Magnet?

Parking strips can be either water conserving or weed magnets. Parking strips are often “out of sight, out of  mind” for many homeowners, especially in older neighborhoods without pressurized irrigation systems and can quickly become weed magnets.

Dragging a hose across the sidewalk is inconvenient and possibly dangerous to pedestrians.

One way to address this issue is to create a water conserving park strip. A water conserving parking strip is simply a parking strip that uses less water than …

Water Conservation and Slopes

Slopes are difficult areas to plant, maintain, and irrigate. Soils on south and west-facing slopes with considerable sun exposure dry quickly, and storm water runoff can significantly increase erosion problems.

Consider water-conserving plantings for these tough spots.  Appropriate shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers are available at local garden centers.

Steep slopes will initially need to be stabilized to prevent loss of soil and water by erosion. Ground covers and other plantings can be planted on slopes to reduce erosion. Drip irrigation …

Water-Wise Knot Gardens

Knot gardens are very formal designs that were popular in England and France in the 17th Century. Herbs were traditionally used for many knot gardens. Low clipped shrubs such as boxwood were added later.  Designs were traditionally created in a square frame and were based on embroideries of the time.

Designs can range from fairly simple to very complex. Most of the designs are kept low so that the pattern is easily seen from above.  Plants are planted to look …

Problems with Parking (Park) Strips

Maintenance issues are the biggest problems with parking strips. Municipalities have the right-of-way in park strips, however, homeowners are responsible for maintaining them.

Very narrow parking strips with lack of effective irrigation can also create maintenance problems.

Problems with Parking Strips


  • Difficult to irrigate due to their long narrow shape, overspray onto sidewalks and streets is common
  • Odd shapes may need drip systems for effective irrigation to the plant root zones
  • Parking strips in older neighborhoods may not

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 …

Designing Shrub Bed Areas With Water Conservation in Mind

Shrubs are very versatile and provide functional and visual benefits in water-wise landscape designs. Shrubs can be used for screening unsightlyviews, adding year round beauty, and as visual transitions between trees and shorter herbaceous perennials and groundcovers.  Fortunately, local garden centers are increasing their inventory of native and water-wise shrubs.

General information on using shrubs in the landscape. Source: Nebraska Extension

Design Considerations

Shrubs are available in vase, mounding, upright, and spreading forms. Since shrubs have …

Plant Selection for Water-Wise Shrub Beds

Appropriate plant selection for water-wise shrub beds can help reduce water needs in the landscape.

Shrubs can provide a more natural look, screen unsightly objects, create strong seasonal interest in the landscape, and provide a backdrop for showy perennials. Shrubs can also meet habitat and food requirements for a variety of wildlife species.









  • Look for native or species adapted to the local climate, soil type, and sun exposure
  • Choose flowering and fruiting

Parking Strips: Plant Selection

Parking strips, the generally long, narrow strips between the street and sidewalk, can make plant selection more challenging.

Many types of plants are available for creating an attractive water-conserving parking strip. Plants should be selected for hardiness, sun exposure, soil and pollution tolerance, and mature size.

Many parking strips contain existing street trees. Consider the orientation of existing trees. Is there morning or afternoon shade under the trees?  Are existing trees drought tolerant species? Selection of companion plants for …