Water conservation

  •  Don’t overwater. Use drip irrigation if possible, and carefully monitor any irrigation systems used. Frequent, shallow watering makes plants susceptible to wind, drought and extreme temperatures, resulting in shallow roots that are vulnerable in dry periods.
  • Reduce the amount of impermeable surfaces by using plants, porous pavement or other permeable surfaces for driveways, sidewalks and patios.
  • Water early in the day to avoid moisture loss and disease problems.
  • Use rain gardens, bioretention cells, swales, vegetated filter strips, permeable surfaces, green roofs, underground tanks or rain barrels to conserve water wherever feasible.
  • Redirect downspouts away from pavement and onto planted areas.
  • Protect slopes with groundcovers.
  • Install underground tanks to collect rainwater from rooftops and hardscaping and use for watering later.
  • Mulch rain gardens with shredded hardwood or shredded bark mulch, which are less likely to wash away than lighter weight mulches.

Turfgrass and Lawn

  •  Lower your expectations; accept some mid-summer dormancy or drabness and apply only enough water to keep the lawn alive but not lush, realizing it will green up again in fall. 
  • Mow no lower than 3.5” all year long for healthier grass and to prevent weed growth.
  • Limit turfgrass to lawn area where it’s truly needed for play and activity. Consider using non-grass plants as turf where foot traffic is not anticipated. Yarrow, sedum, clover, sedges and many other plants have shown great potential.
  •  Avoid using turfgrass in deep shade or other difficult areas.
  • Convert the lawn to more drought-tolerant species like tall fescue or buffalograss that require only minimal watering once established. 
  • Return clippings to the turf to return valuable nutrients and to limit lawn residues in landfills.
  • Mulch tree leaves into the lawn to further improve soil.
  • Reduce overall use of fertilizer.
  • Avoid soil sterilants or products containing dicamba that can move through the soil and harm non-target plants; and use extreme caution with herbicides for controlling dandelions to prevent drift injury to woody plants.
  • Modify weed management strategies. Spot spray or hand-pull as many weeds as possible.  Broadcast spray for perennial weeds only in fall when kill rate is better and there is significantly less risk to surrounding landscape
  • Aerate lawn regularly to improve water infiltration.
  • Use a hand-powered mower to decrease emissions, and get exercise.

Landscape Plants

  •  Group trees and shrubs to protect one another from extreme weather and mass plants together in large mulched areas to protect from mower blight, provide better growing conditions, and minimize irrigation.
  • Right tree, right place, right way.  For maximum growth and vigor, select a good quality tree to match your site, avoid utility lines and plant it at the correct depth.
  • Regularly inspect trees for potential insect and disease problems.
  • Compost garden waste and use it on-site to improve soil and save disposal fees and transporting costs.
  • Carefully prune trees while still young to develop good branch structure. Use 3” of mulch on planting beds to conserve water, decrease temperature fluctuations, reduce weeds and increase organic matter. For trees, keep mulch away from the trunk and mulch to the dripline.
  • Only fertilize for known deficiencies. Excess nitrogen encourages top growth at the expense of root health.
  • To minimize maintenance, use shrubs that look best unpruned.
  • Get a second opinion before attempting to control insects and disease problems that may have little impact on the health of the tree.
  • Include a diversity of plants, particularly natives, for hardiness, pest and disease resistance and to provide food and shelter for wildlife.
  • Include edible plants—vegetables, fruits, nuts—in the landscape.
  • Plant groundcovers on hard-to-mow slopes to prevent soil erosion and for ease of maintenance.
  • Use deciduous trees and shrubs south and east of buildings for summer shade and evergreens to decrease winter winds from north and northwest. Conifers offer most effective wind resistance planted away from buildings at a distance of 1-3 times the tree’s height. Well-placed trees can lower costs for cooling 15-50 percent and heating 25-40 percent.
  • Group plants with similar needs for moisture, care, exposure, soil type.
  • Integrate designed/developed landscapes with the natural landscape.
  • Landscape “vertically” to increase shade and create milder microclimate.
  • Use recycled and/or local source hardscaping—wood, brick, stone,