Ed Mirsky | Hoska Drive
|Ed Mirsky’s water wise front yard includes a variety of native plants to attract birds and butterflies. Photo Ann Garder
Click to enlarge.
Successful drought resistant gardens do not have to depend on just succulents in their landscape, according to Ed Mirsky, an avid birder and gardener who is concerned that the loss of native plants that need little water, will result in fewer birds and other wildlife. This month Ed is sharing the first of three articles on Water Wise and Kind Environments.
MANY PEOPLE IN DEL MAR ARE PLANTING WATER-WISE GARDENS. Some are planting succulent gardens, which use less water than water-guzzling grass lawns. Others are planting native California gardens, which have the additional advantage of creating habitat for wildlife such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds. Join the trend. Create your own water-wise garden design to make the gardens reflect your personal aesthetic. Select a variety of species so that there is something in bloom throughout the year. Start with a few woody plants like manzanita to create the foundation and backdrop of the garden; add ground covers and wildflowers, and accompany them with clumps of succulents for contrast, native bunchgrass for texture, and pockets of spring-flowering bulbs for color. Place large rocks for the plants to grow around, garden art or a water feature as focal points, and you’ll have a show garden.
HARDSCAPE WITH NATURAL ROCK AND STONE. Use permeable surfaces rather than concrete. Decomposed granite, pea gravel, and pervious concrete pavers reduce our carbon footprint. (After the burning of fossil fuels, the manufacture of cement is the number two contributor to global warming by industry.) Use plants to stabilize slopes rather than expensive concrete block retaining walls. Add a few large rocks among the plants for them to grow around to add interest to the garden. These small changes greatly reduce the urban runoff into the coastal marine habitat.
SAVE WATER AND MONEY. Watering your lawn and garden may account for 70 percent of your water bill. The cost of water is going up, and will continue to rise. Water is pumped hundreds of miles to your house, which requires energy (much of it from fossil fuels) and the cost is past on to you.
Eliminate the lawn from the front yard, and if possible, replace the lawn in the backyard or make it smaller. It’s easy—don’t water it! Cover the area with thick black plastic to kill potential weeds. Then plant native ground covers and native bunchgrasses towards the front and center, and small bushes towards the back to create a county meadow. Add some design elements and you have a masterpiece. This has the added advantage of eliminating noisome lawnmowers, which are noise polluting, air polluting, gas guzzling, and not needed.
SIT BACK AND RELAX. Your garden should not require much maintenance or water within two years. It will not require mowing; if you plan for growth, it may not require pruning more than once or twice a year; and if you planned for succession, it will not require the purchase of additional plants. So slow down, take time, and enjoy the native birds and butterflies in your garden.