Carol Pope: For gardeners just starting a garden this spring, this is an important question:
If someone is starting a new garden from scratch, what steps would they undertake to create a waterwise landscape around their home? Are there any resources you particularly recommend?
Paul J. Tukey: Make sure you start with as much topsoil as possible, with 50 percent compost worked into the soil. You should also mulch any new plantings with the organic matter of your choice. Use drought-tolerant plants whenever possible and you’ll find that, most often, native plants will be more tolerant.
Nan Sterman: Three things to start:
- Plan ahead to hydrozone. In other words, plant thirstier plants in one area, preferably near the house so you can enjoy their lushness, flowers, fruits, etc. on a regular basis. I call this getting more bang for the watering buck. The rest of the garden gets low water plants, all watered on a different zone (irrigation valve) than the high water plants.
- Use drip irrigation. I cant emphasize enough how much more efficient and effective drip is. There are folks around my town who badmouth drip regularly—and loudly. I think it is a miracle.
- Buy my book! California Gardener’s Guide, Volume II is all about waterwise gardening. It is customized for California but the approach and many of the plants work in other regions as well.