Saturday, February 8, 2014

Water Conservation #2 - landscaping


According to the Environmental Protection Agency about 30% of all residential water use is outdoor. That is a lot of water for plants and lawn and a big part of your water bill.

Before the drought became the bigger concern, the test house was already considering replacing their lawn with ground cover. The main issue then was moving toward a lower maintenance option. Typically the test house has been spending $50-80 per month to get the lawn mowed. It is not a big lawn to begin with and as it is next to the street and not fenced. It isn't used as a play area or as any sort of outdoor living space. It is just there for looks really and currently serving very little function.
The lawn before.

They want the area to have some curb appeal, but use less water and require just seasonal maintinence. There is an existing in ground sprinkler system, but it has to be turned on and off manually. The owners also didn't want to spend much time or money on the project at this point.

So we researched ground cover options and decided that an aggressive ground cover which would spread quickly would be ideal. The current lawn is paved on all four sides so an invasive plant isn't much of a concern.

We could have also considered switching to a desert style landscape or a hardscape (rock or cement or some combination of that). Both of those options will require more work up front and be more expensive so we will fall back to those options later if ground cover isn't a good fit at this location.
We decided on paper to try vinca minor. It is aggressive, fast growing, very hardy and drought tolerant. It is very low maintenance too. When we mentioned this idea to a friend, they liked the idea and had done something similar on their lawn with vinca minor. They offered to let us dig up some of theirs to start on the test house lawn.

So the plan that we have started on the test house is this:
We planted the vinca minor starts from our friend right into the existing lawn. The lawn was pretty patchy anyway so we hope that we will get the vinca minor to take over and simply out compete the grass. This worked pretty well for our friend on their lawn. We will water the plants minimally the next few weeks, and water them by hand to not encourage growth on the rest of the lawn. We are going to see how they grow and spread and add more starts in the next few weeks.

Looking forward to keeping you posted about this project and see what sort of water savings we get. We hope the combo of water and mowing savings will make this a very worthwhile change!

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