Gardening and Living in Grand Style
Water and the landscape…
Mar 21, 2013 | 2909 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Another winter has passed without an abundance of moisture and it appears some of us will be facing potential cutbacks on how much water will be available for our landscapes and gardens. Since we only receive limited natural precipitation and usually have hot summers, it can be tricky to keep landscape plants truly healthy.

Whether or not you are facing water cutbacks, all of these issues make it increasingly important that everyone really think about their water usage. Water is the major requirement for healthy plants of any type, however, the appropriate management of water for a landscape seems to be one of the more difficult points for people to come to grips with.

Providing the correct amount of water for landscape plants is not a waste of water, nor is it normally a cost issue. For most landscapes you can water correctly and not spend an inordinate amount of money, assuming you have a reasonable landscape. Also, a reasonable landscape here in Grand County doesn’t mean we all have to have native plants, but it probably means limiting turf areas, being careful with tree selections and getting over the belief that you need to water every day. It might be wise to perhaps consider scaling down the amount of managed landscape and reconsider the need for perfection in the landscape.

Ultimately, each of us needs to carefully consider the type and amount of landscape that we have the time and interest to work on and that we can keep truly healthy with the resources we have available to us. If we don’t do these things on our own the decisions might be taken out of our hands in the future.

For any landscape it’s important to have a good understanding of the plants you are using or plan to use, and their root growth and water needs – all of which can make a big difference in your success. Also, let me be clear that no matter how you approach it there is no magic way to get around how plants naturally grow, how their roots spread and how it is best to water your plants so they grow to be healthy and happy. Yes, you can water them less and not consider these issues and hope, for a period of time, that your plants appear at least to you to be a success. On the other side of this, you can artificially enhance the landscape by overwatering. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that, “wow” your landscape looks so much better than that of your neighbors, because what you are doing is mismanaging your water, a very precious resource, and should restrictions be enacted at some point your landscape will crash further and faster than that of many of your neighbors.

Finally – and I realize this might be a stretch for many – consider what are you leaving for the future. Is your landscape manageable for whoever might eventually take over your house and yard? While I understand we all have a right to grow and do what we will with our personal landscapes, I do think we should consider what is sustainable on into the future. Having trees, shrubs, lawns and other plantings is very beneficial for our air and water quality, but it’s not always manageable as we get older, much less for future property owners.

I am always saddened to see landscapes in parts of our county that crash once new owners take over. This usually isn’t due to a lack of concern for the landscape. Many times it is simply that the new owners often aren’t aware of the difficulties, and sometimes costs, associated with that landscape. Also, keeping up a schedule of watering, especially if the previous owner has been over-applying water, can be very difficult.

As anyone who speaks with me knows, I really want people to succeed with their landscapes. Being practical and realistic as to what you will and can do is critical to that success and will lead to less anxiety over any problems that crop up.

Thought for the day: “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” —Gertrude Jekyll.

For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at

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