Water conservation

Here’s how ‘xeriscaping’ your garden can help you save water and money

So far, the year of water in Northern California is off to a promising start. Earlier this week, parts of the Sierra picked up 12″ to 18″ of snow while rain from the valley helped cushion the ground. More rain and snow are expected over the next week, but after three straight years of drought, it will take more than a few storms to get the state’s water supply back in order. This means that water conservation will continue to be a priority for climate experts, water managers and heads of state. Sacramento County water managers say residential customers use most of their water for outdoor irrigation. This landscaping chooses an area where a lot of water can be saved. Dr. Haven Kiers is a landscape architecture expert at UC Davis. Kiers says switching from yard landscaping to “xeriscaping” can make a big difference in the long run. Traditionally popular turf, grass and ornamental plants require a lot of water to maintain and many of these thirsty plant species are not native to northern California. Kiers says even changing some of these plants to something more drought-tolerant can make a difference in many ways. “It’s going to lower your water bill. And then also you bring in a lot of California native plants, you more biodiversity,” Kiers said. Drought-tolerant plants also require a lot less labor and eliminate the need for mowing. While the benefits of upgrading to a xeriscape can be many, it comes at a cost. Depending on the size of the yard, pulling the grass and adding gravel can cost thousands of dollars. In this case, Kiers encourages people to start small.” The beauty of landscaping is that it takes years to get established, it’s going to be there for years,” Kiers said. ‘rip up your entire lawn immediately and replace it with those perfect drought-tolerant plants.’ And Kiers says that even though trees have high water needs, it’s important to keep them in place. established and doing well, then you want ez continue to water it. Keeping your trees alive is one of the most important things you can do,” Kiers said. Because trees help maintain soils, mitigate flooding and provide shade, which can make a big difference on a hot day. Many local water agencies offer programs that can help offset the costs of water-saving investments. The Sacramento County Water Agency currently offers up to ‘to $2,500 through its ‘Cash for Grass’ program,” Sacramento County spokesman Matt Robinson said. Robinson says 1,200 residents have benefited from this program since 2015. He also notes that this only applies to SCWA clients. There are over 20 water providers in Sacramento County alone. Robinson recommends residents contact their supplier directly to ask about ways to save money on their water bill.

So far, the year of water in Northern California is off to a promising start. Earlier this week, parts of the Sierra picked up 12 to 18 inches of snow while rain from the valley helped cushion the ground.

More rain and snow are expected over the next week, but after three straight years of drought, it will take more than a few storms to get the state’s water supply back in order. This means that water conservation will continue to be a priority for climate experts, water managers and heads of state.

Sacramento County water managers say residential customers use most of their water for outdoor irrigation. This landscaping chooses an area where a lot of water can be saved.

Dr. Haven Kiers is a landscape architecture expert at UC Davis. Kiers says switching from yard landscaping to “xeriscaping” can make a big difference in the long run.

“Xeriscaping is just a fancy term for a very simple concept that prioritizes plants with low water content over plants that need more water,” Kiers said.

Traditionally popular turf, grass and ornamental plants require a lot of water to maintain and many of these thirsty plant species are not native to northern California. Kiers says even switching some of these plants to something more drought-tolerant can make a difference in many ways.

“It’s going to reduce your water bill. And then also you bring in a lot of native plants from California, you can bring in more biodiversity,” Kiers said.

Drought-tolerant plants also require much less labor and eliminate the need for mowing.

While the benefits of switching to a xeriscape can be many, it comes at a cost. Depending on the size of the yard, pulling the grass and adding gravel can cost thousands of dollars. In this case, Kiers encourages people to start small.

“The beauty of landscaping is that it takes years to get established, it’s going to be there for years,” Kiers said. “You don’t have to go out and immediately rip up your entire lawn and replace it with those perfect drought-tolerant plants.”

And Kiers says that even though the trees have high water needs, it’s important to keep them in place.

“If you have a tree that’s established and doing well, you want to keep watering it. Keeping your trees alive is one of the most important things you can do,” Kiers said.

Because trees help maintain soils, mitigate flooding and provide shade, which can make a big difference on a hot day.

Many local water agencies offer programs that can help offset the costs of water-saving investments. The Sacramento County Water Agency is currently offering up to $2,500 in its “Cash for Grass” program.

“This program becomes very popular at times like this when we’re in the middle of a drought because people want to try and find ways to save money,” said Matt Robinson, spokesman for the Sacramento County.

Robinson says 1,200 residents have benefited from this program since 2015. He also notes that this only applies to SCWA clients. There are over 20 water providers in Sacramento County alone. Robinson recommends residents contact their supplier directly to ask about ways to save money on their water bill.