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SustainAbility Newsletter

Choosing Plants for Low Water Use

Harris County Water SignYou are not limited to cacti, succulents, or narrow leafed evergreens when selecting plants adapted to low moisture requirements. Many plants growing in humid environments are well adapted to low levels of soil moisture. Numerous plants found growing in coastal or mountainous regions have developed mechanisms for dealing with extremely sandy, excessively well-drained soils, or rocky cold soils in which moisture is limited to months at a time. Following is a list of low water use plants from various parts of the country:

*Always check with your local State extension service when selecting plants to avoid the potential of selecting a plant that is considered invasive in your particular location.

North West
Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)
Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)
Oregon white oak (Quercus garryanna)

South West
Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)
Penstemon (Penstemon spp.)
Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis)

North Central
Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius)
Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)
Bluegrama (Bouteloua gracilis)
Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida)
Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)

South Central
Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius)
Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)
Bluegrama (Bouteloua gracilis)
Tall blasing star (Liatris aspera)
Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpus)
Aromatic sumac (Rhus aromatica)

North East
Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Blazing star (Liatris spicata)
Pitch pine (Pinus rigida)
Beach plum (Prunus serotina)

South East
Tall blazing star (Liatris aspera)
Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)
Sand Live oak (Quercus germinata)
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)

Fast Facts:

  • Ground covers are good alternatives where turfgrasses are impractical.
  • Suitable places for ground covers include narrow strips between sidewalks or structures and steep slopes where mowing is not practical.
  • Consider ground covers other than grasses on hot, dry exposures, as well as for dense shade beneath trees and shrubs.
  • Improve soils before planting ground covers.

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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon International
www.auduboninternational.org

The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org

The US Environmental Protection Agency
www.epa.gov/compost

Organic Farming Research Foundation
www.ofrf.org

United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/bacyyard

Natural Resources Defense Council
www.nrdc.org

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Efficient Watering Methods

Trickle Irrigation ImageTrickle irrigation and drip irrigation systems help reduce water use and meet the needs of plants. With these methods, very small amounts of water are supplied to the base of the plants. Since the water is applied directly to the soil, rather than onto the plant, evaporation from leaf surfaces is reduced. The water is also placed where it will do the most good, rather than sprayed over the entire garden.

Trickle irrigation systems are frequently used by farmers dealing in high value crops such as vegetables, and small fruits such as grapes and berries, where lack of moisture can mean the difference between a profitable harvest or costly failure. These systems are similar to those used by the home gardener.


Fast Facts:

  • Wise use of water for garden and lawn not only helps protect the environment, but saves money and provides for optimum growing conditions. Simple ways of reducing the amount of water used for irrigation include growing xeriphytic species (plants that are adapted to dry conditions), mulching, adding water retaining organic matter to the soil, and installing windbreaks and fences to slow winds and reduce evapotranspiration.
  • Watering in the early morning before the sun is intense helps reduce the water lost from evaporation. Installing rain gutters and collecting water from downspouts also helps reduce water use. 

PDF
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE NEWSLETTER IN PDF FORMAT

References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon International
www.auduboninternational.org

The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org

The US Environmental Protection Agency
www.epa.gov/compost

Organic Farming Research Foundation
www.ofrf.org

United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/bacyyard

Natural Resources Defense Council
www.nrdc.org

    

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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