Exploring Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Practices

Jun 25, 2021

Drought-tolerant landscaping has become a popular option in dry areas to lessen the need for water on people's lawns. Joining me today is Rick Heflebower, USU Extension Horticulturist in Washington County, to talk about this method of drought management.

So, looking just past the implications of just the name itself, what is drought tolerant or resistant landscaping.

Rick Heflebower- When we think about drought-tolerant landscaping, it is not just one practice but a series of things that people can do in their lawns and landscapes to conserve water.

One thing you can do is to try to move as much of your landscape to drip irrigation, as opposed to sprinklers. Drip irrigation is where the water drips very slowly into the planting area. This allows the soil to soak the water in so that it doesn't run off or evaporate.

Another thing would be to use mulching. What this will do is the mulch will help hold the moisture to the soil.

Another thing that people could be thinking about doing, they haven't already done so, is to use plants that are more tolerant of drought. This means when you're choosing or selecting plants that don't take as much water.

Those are some of the things I can think of right off that people could do. Some would take a little preparation. Others are things they could probably start to do right away.

Kailey Foster- You bring up the drip irrigation system and how that would take some preparation. What are some things people can do on their lawns right now to help keep their lawn more water-efficient?

RH- So probably one of the best things that they could do would be to be mindful of the number of times extension and the state is recommending that people water each week. Knowing and understanding how many times you should water during the week will conserve water.

Another good thing to remember is to water at the right time of day. Most places are saying not to water between 10 am and 8 pm- this is when the temperatures are highest evaporation rates will be the highest during that time. We're encouraging people to water from 8 pm until 10 am.

There have been times we've caution people about not watering in the dark to help prevent disease, but right now we are so dry. There's little or no humidity in the air, so there's no harm to the water during the evening hours during this time of year.

KF- What should people know before making major changes to their lawn; such as drip management?

RH- When you conduct drip irrigation, you are putting the water precisely in one area. If you use the emitters, you'll space those emitters out according to where the plants are in the landscape.

You have to be aware that when you switch over to drip- because you're using so much less water, you don't want to starve the trees and shrubs. To keep them from starving, make the change gradually.