November 30 2012

Three Considerations in Creating a Drought Resistant Landscape

Having faced one of the worst droughts in Texas history, in 2011, Austinites know that water is an issue of the future, but also today. Yet Texas remains to be one of the largest consumers of water. What are Texans doing with all that water? Well, watering, … watering climatically inappropriate landscapes. Homeowners, institutions, and cities alike can utilize these three considerations when it comes to landscaping for sustainable water use. I will spare you the more obvious by skipping drought resistant plants, but a handy tool is linked for your reference.

Native Texas Blue Bonnents1. Soil

It is important to test soil to determine depth, classification (example: clay and sand), and nutrient levels. Understanding soil determines the type of plant that is most suitable for a particular landscape and avoids plant selections that would need more water to survive unfavorable soil conditions. Secondly, do not fertilize with high nitrogen fertilizers because this causes leaf growth which increases the amount of water needed to nourish plants.

2. Design

Some small landscape design considerations that have a huge impact on water usage are plant placement and hardscaping. Control storm water runoff by utilizing permeable paving and barriers to retain valuable water. In addition, water intensive plans should be placed at the bottom of slopes while the most drought tolerant plants should be arranged in the southern and western facing portions of a landscape because these are the driest and hottest areas.

Example of a drought resistant landscape in Austin, TX

3. How and When to Water

Drip irrigation is more water efficient than sprinkler systems because they soak the soil rather than misting the top portions of plants. Misted water evaporates more quickly and doesn’t reach the soil where water is stored and received by the plants. One simple change to an irrigation routine that significantly increases water retention is irrigating at night.

What are some ways in which you have developed a more climate friendly and sustainable landscape?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Bonnie Rodd

Originally from the North-Central area of California, Bonnie Rodd found herself at home amongst the creative, participatory, and sometimes off beat Austinites. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies with a minor in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary interest is sustainable urban development, focusing on alternative transportation and pedestrianism. Believing that the human element in design is invaluable, she dabbled in some social studies as well. This past spring she explored the three legs of sustainability in her thesis titled “Making a Case for Affordable Housing in Transit-Oriented Developments: Austin,TX” and developed a model for single-family affordable housing delivery in such neighborhoods. Bonnie currently resides in Austin, Texas, and will be exposing readers to environmental design issues present in both Austin and Central Texas.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 30th, 2012 at 6:38 pm and is filed under Architecture, Environment, Environmental Design, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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