October 12, 2007

D4-Exceptional Drought (rethink our landscapes)

Our county is one of the many in North Carolina in stage D4-Exceptional Drought. This is worse than D3-Severe Drought. You can track the drought at NC Drought.

The impact and damage is at many levels: water supplies, native plants, landscapes, gardens and those who earn their livelihood at professions that rely upon water such as nurseries that keep plant inventory. Some public water systems allow new landscape for new construction to be watered for 30 days. However, there is no way to know what rain will fall after those grace periods. Therefore, the builders and homeowners are running the risk of losing whatever they have planted. With no possibility of rain in the forecast for another five days, we are faced with new challenges that we have not experienced in this area in a very long time, perhaps in my lifetime. I’ll have to do some more research on past droughts for an accurate history.

We no longer use weekly drip irrigation for the few plants that were on our system as we can’t be assured as to the water level of our private well. If some of the surrounding water systems have only 80 days of water supply left, what does that mean for private well owners? It will vary from site to site, of course.

We are keeping buckets in our showers to collect water before the water turns hot. We are collecting pots of water in the kitchen as well. This water is providing selective watering to plants and shrubs that would be very expensive to replace. Otherwise, the garden is going to have to survive on its own. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed that the morning dew has been heavy. This small amount of moisture is actually providing some benefit to the garden.

This week I set about checking for dead plants. I could literally pull some of these out of the ground without digging. I dug down into the soil in several places. Our garden is heavily mulched. The soil is dry. It is too dry to plant anything. In the lowest places, I found some moist soil still down below the mulch.

That’s the bad news and a big wake-up call about this precious resource. We can learn from other parts of the country that experience drought or low-water conditions on a regular basis. Xeriscape™! The best resource that I have found to explain xeriscape is Colorado WaterWise Council.

In a nutshell, the site explains the principles of xericaping your lawn and garden (paraphrasing the Colorado source):

1. Plan and design from the beginning for water conservation and beauty
2. Create practical turf areas of manageable sizes with appropriate grasses
3. Select low water plants for your zone and soil conditions
4. Use appropriate soil amendments such as compost
5. Layer mulches to retain moisture and prevent evaporation
6. Irrigate efficiently with the right amount of water at the right time
7. Maintain the landscape


Please take time to visit the Colorado WaterWise Council site to understand their suggested Xeriscape™ Colorado principles. I have posted many blogs regarding drought tolerant plants for our zone. I will continue to provide drought, deer and butterfly gardening updates.

With good xeriscaping principles we will save water and continue to create beautiful gardens for our homes.

Happy Xeriscaping!

Cameron

Xeriscape™ and the Xeriscape logo are trademarks of Denver Water.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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