Constructing a new log home offers you an opportunity to develop a landscape that will enhance your home even when the rain clouds are few and far between. Conserving water for many log home owners is an important goal, as many log homes are built in rural areas that are served by private water wells. By setting up your landscape to survive with less water, you’ll be creating an outdoor area that will be beautiful no matter what the rainfall conditions.
The actual term for landscaping with minimal water requirements is xeriscaping, which is derived from the Greek xeros, which means "dry." Until recently, most xeriscaping was done in areas prone to very little rainfall, like the desert Southwest. But with drought becoming more common in other areas of the country and increasing demands on local water supplies, homeowners can cut their water usage dramatically by selecting plants that thrive in dry conditions.
Keep lawn areas to a minimum
Over watering lawns can consume up to 60 percent of your domestic water. Generally lawns need only an inch of water every seven to ten days. Designing a landscape that keeps the turf area small will save you water, energy and time mowing. When putting in a new lawn, choose a type of grass that is more hardy and drought resistant such as tall fescue, bermuda or zoysia grass. Prepare the soil with organics and well-drained soil to give the turf a good start.
By reducing the lawn area, you’ll have more space for terraces and flower beds. Consider using a combination of gravel and paving stones to create pathways that can cut the amount of plant landscaping you’ll need. Keeping mature trees native to your site to provide extra shade will add beauty and also conserve water by keeping your yard as much as 20 degrees cooler. One other trick to maintaining a low-water landscape is to plant more mature trees and bushes, which will need less water stay vigorous.
Once your lawn is mature, you’ll actually be doing the turf a favor by watering less frequently and cutting your grass higher as both these practices encourage deep root growth, which in turn make it more drought resistant. Once a year, rent an heavy duty aerator to encourage good drainage and deep moisture retention.
Fertilize less frequently
If you employ a commercial fertilizer select a slow-release nitrogen style and apply at the rate indicated on the label for new landscapes, and at a lower rate for established landscapes.
Investigate Drought Resistant Plants
For most of us living in temperate zones xeriscaping can bring to mind cacti and dry grasses, but there are quite a few drought-resistant species that are good substitutes for traditional plants. Depending upon your local climate, you’ll probably want to check with a local garden center to select plants that require less water. In Georgia, where a drought has imposed severe water restrictions, one website, Watersmart.net, provides a lot of good information. Their AlterNatives section offers attractive drought-resistant alternatives to common bushes, ground cover and hedges.
All in all, planning your landscaping to anticipate the occasional drought can reap many rewards, and enhance your home no matter what Mother Nature has in store.
>Drought resistant plants pictured include (top to bottom): Southern Wax Myrtle (Morella/Myrica cerifera); Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata); and Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).