Too much. Not enough. Water, that is. As I look at the two gaping spaces in a row of what was once eight arborvitae (now just six) in my backyard, I am reminded of just how hot and dry it got last Summer here in New Jersey. In fact, it was the hottest year since 1895 coupled with 2″ less average rainfall. When it did rain, it was a deluge, sending rivers of water swirling uselessly down storm drains. Despite attempts, my two shrubs—and countless others in my area—wilted into dead things.
The connection between healthy landscapes and water in an era of scarcity is complicated. As Bryce Carnehl of Hunter Industries writes in his article A Balanced Approach To Irrigation, “How do we balance this need for supporting our vital green spaces with the need to preserve our most precious natural substance, fresh water?” Yet, “the challenge for landscapers… to plan concurrently for too much water, not enough water, and fire—while also attempting to save and create habitat,” has led to some positive outcomes, says Dave Phelps, an irrigation educator in California, and author of Conservation Lessons From California. Both Carnehl and Phelps detail programs and practices that help close the gap between water conservation and supporting the tangible benefits of outdoor environments.
Meanwhile in Colorado, with water use in the crosshairs, the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) has gotten ahead of the issue by creating an initiative that incentivizes large water-using clients to practice conservation and stand out as part of the solution, not part of the problem. And in New York, Green Jay Landscape Design has built a reputation by transforming stormwater problems into resilient, attractive ecosystems using terraforming, locally-sourced natural materials, and native plants.
So will I replace the arborvitae? I’m unsure. Once super low maintenance, they’ve been problematic in recent years. And my Zone, a 7, is on the cusp for the popular landscape staple. I may need an alternative for hotter, drier Summers. It really is uncharted waters for us—and our landscapes—as we adapt new solutions for this new normal.
Turf June 2023 Issue | Table of Contents
COLORADO LANDSCAPERS INCENTIVIZE WATER CONSERVATION | With outdoor watering in the crosshairs, the ALCC provides clients a way to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
CONSERVATION LESSONS FROM CALIFORNIA | Decades of drought brought about MWELO, WUCOLS, and other acronyms. What do they mean and what can we learn from them?
THE FOUNDATION OF SAFETY | Keep It Green Landscaping on award-winning safety practices.
A BALANCED APPROACH TO IRRIGATION | Eight practices to ensure irrigation is also resource management.
GET EQUIPPED: IRRIGATION & WATER MANAGEMENT
SUSTAINABLE STORMWATER SOLUTIONS | Green Jay Landscape Design transforms stormwater problems into resilient, attractive, and enjoyable ecosystems.
GET EQUIPPED: DROUGHT RESISTANT PLANTS & SOLUTIONS
DESIGNBUILD®: PERMEABLE PAVERS IN LANDSCAPE PROJECTS | Turning drainage negatives into positives.
PAVING THE WAY TO A BETTER COMMUNITY | Alys Beach has had permeable paver roads for 20+ years.
GET EQUIPPED: HARDSCAPE PROJECTS
DESIGNBUILD®: BUILDING A WATER-RESISTANT DECK | Techniques to prevent water from undermining your installation.
THE YARDSTICK: CRAIG RUPPERT | From mowing neighbors’ lawns in the 1970s to one of the most iconic names in the Industry, Craig Ruppert tells his story.