Drought-Tolerant Landscaping

California is in a severe drought, 2011 to 2014 was the driest three-year period since record keeping began in 1895. What does it mean to you, your family, and your real estate? By implementing some simple solutions, you can help save our natural resources, reduce your property management headaches, and potentially put more money in your pocket at the end of the year.

One of the primary ways to enhance your water saving efforts is with drought-tolerant landscaping. According to the City of San Diego, outdoor irrigation accounts for more than 50% of residential water use.

The core premise behind drought-tolerant landscaping is reducing your water usage by implementing simple and smart strategies. Simply put, these strategies include what you use to cover the ground, which plants you choose, and how you deliver water to your plants. These principals go into some detail behind how you can make your landscape more water conscious while minimizing cost and boosting your property’s curb appeal.

Ground Cover

In general, eliminating or minimizing grass will provide huge water savings. If you pay for your (or your tenant’s) water, this potentially means a big cost savings. Grass is a huge consumer of water and probably the biggest source of outdoor water waste. If you want to keep some natural grass, it would be wise to minimize it where possible and ensure you are using high efficiency sprinklers. In addition, make sure you are watering at the correct time of day.

Looking for grass alternatives? Some options include artificial turf, mulch, or other ground cover. Artificial turf has come a long way and can be a big bonus to owners and renters who want a low maintenance yard. In addition, high quality turfs have a great look and feel with many different options that are designed to simulate real grass look. We installed turf at a rental property in Oceanside and had great results. We recommend San Diego Lawns & Turf Company for a wide turf selection and excellent installment.

San Diego County occasionally offers rebates for grass removal. Be sure to check out the WaterSmart website for information regarding potential rebates and savings.

Mulch, decomposed granite (also known as “DG”), and other ground covers are also excellent options because they can be aesthetically pleasing and also conserve water by reducing evaporation from the soil. In addition to reducing evaporation, mulch also reduces weeds and helps maintain more moderate and controlled soil temperatures. Affordable mulch can be purchased at the El Corazon Compost Facility in Oceanside.

Choose Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants

Artificial turf, mulch, and other types of ground covers are great but it can be difficult to attract good renters without the curb appeal of plants, shrubs, and trees. As property managers, we suggest finding local, drought-tolerant plants to complete your yard’s new look! There are a wide variety of succulents, shrubs, and trees that do not require intensive watering.

Leucadia Succulents in Encinitas has a great selection of plants. Another tip for succulents is propagating more succulents from existing plants. Succulents have the ability to be split and multiply into more plants! Check out this video and article for more information on how to do your own succulent clippings.

Water Your Plants Efficiently

How and when you apply water to your plants is a critical component of your smart-scaping. If you want grass in Southern California, it may be wise to invest in efficient sprinkler heads. This will help save water and hopefully motivate your renters to keep the grass alive with moderate watering.

What is the best way to water your other plants? Drip irrigation! Drip irrigation is a low pressure and low flow system that greatly reduces water waste. Drip irrigation applies water to the point of use (the plants roots) and waters plants slowly to allow the soil to absorb the water and avoid excess runoff. Be sure to check out San Diego’s website for potential rebate programs for installing micro-irrigation systems.

Make sure your water controller is set to water at the correct time and day. It’s best to water in between sunset and sunrise because temperatures and wind are generally the lowest. Make sure that you are watering on the correct day by looking at the watering schedules at the City of San Diego’s Water Prohibitions page.
Are you a techie? Look into smart irrigation controllers that account for plant types, soil conditions, and changing weather! Check for potential rebates on these devices at SoCal Water$mart.

Final Thoughts

How does drought-tolerant landscaping affect your real estate? In general, creating a drought-tolerant landscape can boost your property curb appeal and value. In addition, you may be able to find rebates to help pay for the improvements. For homeowners living in their primary residence, implementing these actions can provide huge monthly savings on your water bill.

For owners with investment properties, the actions you choose to implement may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. These improvements can reduce gardening and water costs, which is a big savings if you are paying those expenses. It can also minimize your landlord headaches by helping keep your rental property looking good through the summer months because your tenants will be less tempted to turn off the water in order to save on their monthly bill.

At Feel Good Property Management, we believe it is equally important to remember the impact that saving water has on the environment. Reducing water usage from your landscaping can help save California’s limited natural resources. By keeping this concept in mind, we can all chip in to keep California a viable and amazing place to live now and for our future generations.

Article by Matthew Burch, Feel Good Property Management Client Relations and Agent

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