Think Green

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Plant right to save water and money

Many communities endure harsh summers characterized by high temperatures and infrequent rainfall. In such locales, local governments typically institute water restrictions on local landowners. These restrictions limit the amount of water homeowners can use to maintain their properties, and some homeowners choose to install new irrigation systems in an effort to help their lawns and garden survive the potentially harsh summer weather.

While new irrigation systems can be effective, homeowners looking for alternatives to such systems can find ways to save both water and money. Planting right is a great way to conserve water and save money, and homeowners need not be veteran landscapers to ensure their lawns and gardens survive and even thrive during warm weather.

* Learn about native plants and grasses. The most beautiful lawns and gardens in the dog days of summer are not necessarily those owned by the most obsessive homeowners. Instead, these homeowners might just have chosen grass and plants native to the local climate and therefore more capable of handling the ups and downs of that climate. When choosing grass and plants for your lawn, consult with a local lawn care professional if you're hesitant to choose your own grass and plants. If you don't want to work with a consultant, do your homework on both your property and the region where you live before making any decisions. For example, if your home is located in a region where summer drought is commonplace, then grass and plants that do not need much water might be your best option.

* Aerate the soil. Healthy soil can help to protect grass and plants forced to cope with harsh conditions. Aeration is a process by which soil is punctured with spikes or cores of soil are removed from the ground to improve drainage and water penetration. Operating an aerator in the yard can be challenging, so it's often best to leave such a project to the professionals. But when planting in a garden, homeowners can turn and cultivate the soil to improve its moisture retention with a goal toward growing healthier plants.

* Choose the right season to plant. Some plants thrive when planted during certain times of the year, but many plants should not be planted during the summertime. When planted in the summer, plants typically need more water to establish themselves because the temperatures are hotter. Spring or fall tend to be the best seasons to plant, but homeowners can consult a local lawn and garden professional to determine the best time to plant in their specific region.

* Lay mulch around bushes, plants, shrubs and trees. Mulch serves many purposes, from the practical to the aesthetic. Many homeowners find laying mulch around their property adds to the property's visual appeal. But mulch also is practical, helping soil to retain its moisture and reduce evaporation. In addition, mulch helps curtail the growth of weeds, which compete with existing plants for water.

* Make trees work for you. Planting trees around a lawn can not only improve the curb appeal of your home, but also trees serve more practical purposes. When planting trees, look at trees as natural providers of shade that can lower soil temperatures and reduce moisture loss. You may want to plant trees in such a way so they provide shade to areas that tend to be hit especially hard by summer sun.

Planting right with a goal of protecting their property from the elements and conserving water can save homeowners money and make their lawns and gardens more aesthetically appealing.