Do you ever wonder why the exterior of your home isn’t as inviting as its interior? If you do, then you know what to do – start a landscaping project. The power to transform your exterior of wasteland or emptiness into a magical garden lies in your hands.
Whenever you decide to start this transformation project, you have to ask yourself first if you are ready for every task required to complete the job and of course, if you are financially capable. Your participation along with experienced local landscape contractors is highly imperative for guaranteed successful results.
In addition to this, Victorville is a part of the High Desert community. One of the top reasons why people love living in the high desert is because the environment is beautiful and delicate. Living in this area also means that you, just like everybody else should have high regards for water conservation, especially in landscaping.
The local Water Conservation Division of Victorville highly encourages people to save water in any way possible and provides information, programs, as well as education regarding this matter. Now, incorporating landscaping with water conservation isn’t possible – in fact, it’s achievable.
Here are the little-known principles of low-water-use landscaping which can help preserve the environment and its resources.
Proper Planning and Design
The first step in every successful landscaping project is proper planning and design. In this phase of your project, you have to envision how your garden would look like, its size and what features you want to add. Sketch everything you desire to have and remember, the more you want to achieve, the higher the cost will be.
Aside from that, you should take consideration of the landscaping standards in your district in your design. You can ask assistance or professional help from a landscape architect to draw the final design and suggest other practical ways for this project.
Make a plan that shows lawn, plantings and hardscape which focuses on function above aesthetics. Then, decide on which elements you want to include in it, especially the watering system.
Planning also involves setting a realistic budget for the entire job, which includes labor cost, materials, processing fees, etc. Almost all property improvements require permits, hence, you need to ensure yours before starting, or you can let the contractor company whom you’ll be working with to get a hold of it for you.
Your plan and design shall undergo checking, as per the municipal code of Victorville requires. The process time for this checking may vary, however, you can call the Building Division Plan Review to inquire the status of your plan and design.
Do you have any idea what type of soil you have in your lawn? If you don’t, then you must proceed to get a soil test. The soils in the high desert community, including Victorville area, are mostly alkaline, with pH levels between 7.5 – 9.0. A soil test is useful to determine soil acidity, nutrient content, composition, and soil amendments. Soil amendments are beneficial to landscape plantings because it can help increase water-holding capacity and improve soil structure.
Soils in every area of your lawn may vary in terms of texture and parent materials. Hence, to cover the field variability, a composite sample of at least a dozen soil cores should be gathered, representing all areas of the field. Take the samples to a credited soil testing laboratory for examination and they will send you the results in a week or two on average.
Organic matter from backyard compost piles such as compost, lawn clippings, and peat moss is few examples of organic soil amendments. There are non-organic amendments as well that can be significant in adding supplements to your soil.
Correct Plant Selection
The result of the soil test will also help you determine the type of plants that flourish in the high desert soil, specifically on the type of soil you have in Victorville. Aside from the soil type, you should also consider the climate when choosing the plants to grow in your landscape.
As part of the high desert, this city’s climate is characterized by large temperature fluctuations between summer and winter, as well as between day and night. Also, it is characterized by strong winds. Temperature in winter can get as cold as 0°F, and since winter is almost upon us, you have to choose plants that are drought resistant (xeric plants) and can tolerate the weather extremes and the wind. Highly drought tolerant plants can flourish even in low water usage, especially during their dormant season.
Perennials are the excellent choice such as Yerba Mansa, California Four O’clock, Desert Wishbone-Bush and Purple Owl’s Clover. Other set of examples of flowering plants are: Desert Globemallow, California Fuchsia, Blue Dicks, Miniature Lupine, and Baby Blue Eyes plant.
Practical Turf Areas
Practical turf areas mean using turf grass for a specific function. Not every area in your landscape should be covered with turf, however, there are some that require it. Given this, you have to practically choose the areas where you will cover with it. Even a high water-use turf grass can be grown and managed in a lower maintenance and lower water-use manner.
This task is divided into three aspects:
• Create a lawn scape and determine how much space of your landscape will be dedicated to a turf grass.
• Choose your turf grass – in this stage, there are five types of grass that you could choose from, namely: Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Buffalo grass, Bermuda grass and Perennial Ryegrass.
All these have high cold and drought tolerance which is perfect for the high desert soil in Victorville.
• Proper turf maintenance for your turf grass type – once you’ve chosen the turf grass you’re going to use, you have to keep it healthy and luscious.
Designing and installing an efficient irrigation system is important after you’ve designed your landscape. You can do this task on your own, depending on your expertise or capabilities. Otherwise, leave the experts to do the job. The components of your irrigation system should be based on your landscape needs and the capabilities of your home plumbing system.
Sprinklers can cover large areas, hence, you can divide your lawn into squares and install sprinklers in corners first. Then, you can install around the perimeter and in the center for full coverage. Might as well install automatic timer which is well-suited with your irrigation scheduling needs.
The advantage of drip irrigation over sprinklers is that there is little water loss due to evaporation and it is effective at supplying one to four gallons of water per hour directly to the soil. For this, whenever possible, irrigate shrubs, trees and flower beds.
Use of Mulches
When you’re done the planting, it is essential to spread mulch to the top of the soil especially around trees, shrubs, and flowers. Applying mulch is beneficial in a number of ways you may not even know of. Here are some of the major advantages of spreading mulch:
• Aids in reducing soil moisture loss through evaporation.
• Insulates soil, protecting roots from extreme summer and winter temperatures.
• Effective in controlling weed germination and growth.
• Improves soil fertility as organic mulch types decompose.
There are two types of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulch includes wood chips, pine needles, hardwood and softwood bark, cocoa hulls, leaves, and compost mixes. This type of mulch is highly preferred by horticulturist because it improves soil structure, add organic materials, and provide nutrients unlike inorganic mulch (s types of stone, lava rock, pulverized rubber, etc.).
Given the strong winds that characterize high desert areas, such as Victorville, mulch may be blown away. So, apply mulch under a layer of rock or cover with landscape netting to decrease erosion.
Proper Lawn Maintenance
Last, but definitely not the least, it’s paramount that you pay attention to proper lawn maintenance to keep your lawn green, healthy, dense and luscious. Lawn care can be divided into several tasks, namely:
• Raking Leaves – Fallen leaves don’t have to pile up on your lawn and create a soggy mat that’ll knock out your turf, so keep removing the leaves.
• Mowing – Grass continues to grow until the first hard frost, hence, you should keep cutting it at an ideal 2½- to 3-inch height. Make sure that the blades of your lawn mower are sharp to avoid lawn damage.
• Aerating Soil – Loosening the soil can improve its ability to hold water and prevents soil from becoming compacted.
• Applying Fertilizer – Fall is the ideal time to fertilize the soil and do it while grass still is green and while 2-3 weeks remain before the ground freezes.
• Reseeding – Reseeding your lawn in fall can fill in thin spots or bare patches, it allows you to bring together the latest in resilient, drought-tolerant grasses.
Putting all these principles together can certainly guarantee successful results in terms of low-water-use landscaping. Innovatively planning a landscape that conserves water presents the greatest opportunity to use water prudently, especially in a high desert community, specifically Victorville.
Water is a precious resource and it deserves to be used in the most responsible way possible. Winter is coming, so better start moving before the snow falls!