Hot and Cool

Starting in nursery school, children learn to equate plants with water. In the “Garden Song” — a 1975 children’s song made famous by John Denver and Pete Seeger — the lyricist is planting a garden, and “inch by inch, row by row, [they’re] gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.” But what if you live in a region of the U.S. where you don’t have fertile ground? What if you can’t wait “’til the rain comes tumbling down” because you’re living in a drought, or experiencing a water shortage?

On average, an American’s “water footprint” is 32,911 glasses a day, according to the Nature Conservancy. Ninety-six percent of that water is “hidden” water, used to grow and make your clothes, food, and generate energy for items of daily use. If Americans don’t alter their style of living and water consumption, that’s 751,777 gallons of water used, per person, per year. But before you alter your diet and buy a new wardrobe, a great way to practice saving water starts with your garden.

Succulents for sale at the Safeway grocery store in Georgetown.
Succulents for sale at the Safeway grocery store in Georgetown.

In places like California, where residents are redesigning their yards to abide by the state water restrictions, plant stores and nurseries are seeing increased sales in succulents, mulch, and pottery, and fewer purchases of roses, bedding, and tropical plants. As of earlier this summer, almost 3,000 Angelenos and 60 LA companies had ripped out their lawns to partake in the state’s rebate. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California offers a rebate of $2 per square foot of turf removal. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said to California Governor Jerry Brown, “I can report that with only 10% of the state’s population, Los Angeles will reach half of your entire statewide goal by the end of this year,” the LA Times reports. LA’s progress in water conservation shows the impact that residents can have on a larger environmental scale.

With only 10% of the state’s population, Los Angeles will reach half of California’s statewide water goal by the end of this year, thanks to the rebate for turf removal.

If you are a resident of California and want to join in making a difference, a great place to get started is the “California-Friendly Guide to Native and Drought Tolerant Gardens,” featuring aesthetic photos and detailed care instructions for flowers and plants that can serve countless benefits to your yard. There are a number of sites featuring great drought-tolerant plants, and a number of vibrant drought-tolerant perennials that will not only last in your garden for a few years, but also add a lot of color. There’s a misconception that less water-intensive plants are lackluster, but if you visit these sites and drop by your local plant store, you would be surprised how beautiful drought-tolerant plants can be.

An indoor arrangement of succulents, perfect for home decor.
An indoor arrangement of succulents, by Patricia Berl; perfect for home decor or entertaining.

Once you perform some feng shui in your yard and make it more water-friendly, you will realize how much you don’t miss watering your yard, and you’ll likely want to bring water-friendly plants inside your home. Succulents and terrariums are very trendy as indoor plants, and they require water very infrequently. My neighbor Patricia Berl arranged this beautiful centerpiece on the left, featuring some of the drought-tolerant plants mentioned earlier. Patricia also uses artichokes (you can buy them really cheap at Trader Joe’s) for a chic arrangement for the dinner table; it’s perfect for summer and only requires water every few weeks. Plus, if you’re traveling, you don’t ever have to worry about watering your indoor plants! You can follow Patricia’s Tumblr, Patricia Berl Flowers, to see more water-friendly arrangements.

© Rissponsible Living, 2015

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