Landscape water efficiency
In the average Kelowna home, 55 per cent of total annual water is used for landscape irrigation. On an average summer day, about 72 million litres of water is sprayed onto lawns and gardens.
The first step to ensure a water-efficient landscape is to have good soil. Some of the soils in Kelowna are not ideal for water retention. In sand and gravel type soils, the water just runs through. In clay soils the water sits on top and evaporates. Top-dressing your lawn and putting mulch in gardens will help the soil retain moisture. Products like OgoGrow and GlenGrow are ideal for this purpose.
The next step is to carefully select plant material. While cedar hedges grow quickly and look nice, they are not be the best choice for our semi-arid climate. More people are choosing plants that are native to the area and have adapted to local conditions.
The word Xeriscape is derived from the Greek word "xeros," which means dry. It’s a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semi-arid climates that utilizes water conserving techniques.
Conserving water use on outdoor landscapes, by adopting xeriscape principles in planning and planting offers several benefits which include using less water and saving money.
While xeriscapes reduce water use by 30 to 100 per cent depending on design and plants used, they also result in landscapes which are more resilient to drought and to the pressures of pests and disease. Plants growing in their ideal conditions thrive with less water, less maintenance and there is no need for pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
The Okanagan Xeriscape Association (OXA) is an excellent place to learn about this alternative to traditional landscaping. To learn more about the colourful range of plants which are adapted to growing in the near-desert natural conditions of the Okanagan Valley, browse through OXA's extensive plant database at www.okanaganxeriscape.org. The database includes colour photos of hundreds of xeriscape plants suitable for our climate and can be searched by flower colour, blooming time, size, light requirements and more.
In 2010, the Okanagan Xeriscape Association created a demonstration garden, the unH2O Xeriscape Garden, in front of the H2O Aquatic Centre at 4075 Gordon Drive. Visit its six theme gardens in any season during the year to get inspiration for using xeriscape plants in your own landscape.