Steele: Water-wise garden can reduce maintenance tasks

Too much water causes rampant growth of most plants, which leads to more pruning, staking, weeding and mowing tasks.

In my last column, I asked if your garden was water-wise and gave three clues that would help me recognize if it was.

Those clues were all bare ground covered with a layer of mulch, plants grouped by water needs, and healthy plants growing in their ideal conditions.

These are all aspects of xeriscape gardening.

Another is efficient irrigation.

Last week, the editor put up a sub-heading ‘Too much water stunts plant growth’ which did not relate to the topic of my column.

In fact, too much water causes rampant growth of most plants, which leads to more pruning, staking, weeding and mowing tasks.

In other words, too much water creates make-work projects taking up your time needlessly or costing you a lot more if you are paying for landscape maintenance.

Another practice that can create more work is over-fertilizing. This can have the same effect as over-watering.

Mulching all your gardens with organic mulch such as Ogogrow, Nature’s Gold, Glengrow, or mulch from Classic Compost will supply all the nutrients your plants need in a slow, steady release over the whole season.

It also reduces weed growth.

One half to one inch of any of these spread over lawn in spring or fall, or both, is all the lawn needs, building up the soil at the same time, something chemical fertilizers cannot do.

Rock mulch in your gardens can’t feed your plants or the soil.

Unfortunately a common misconception is that xeriscape gardens always have rock mulch.

Rock mulch has several disadvantages.

It greatly increases the heat around your plants, making them need more water. If they are not heat loving plants, they will also be very stressed.

A Japanese maple, native to the moist climate of Japan, will really struggle, whereas lavender, native to the Mediterranean, will be quite happy.

Rock mulch will also throw excessive heat onto any adjacent buildings increasing the need for air conditioning.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of rock mulch is the maintenance challenge.

No matter how well you clear out weeds and lay down landscape fabric before the rocks are spread, weeds will grow from dust and seeds blowing in. Weeding out of rocks is a nasty, tedious task.

If there are any trees or plants nearby that drop leaves, spent flowers, or seeds, the clean-up can be a nightmare.

If you want to make changes to the landscape, it is a daunting task to move the rocks and cut through the fabric.

Think how much easier maintenance and renovations are in a garden simply mulched with organic matter.

Next week I will write about minimizing pruning tasks.


The Friends of the Summerland Ornamental Gardens Mother’s Day plant sale is this Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the beautiful gardens above the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre. Go early if you are looking for xeriscape plants.

Just Posted

Jurors set to deliberate on Kelowna murder trial

“He was mad as a hatter…”

Kelowna couple confront Alzheimer’s disease

Allan and Bettina Collier stay active and take life one day at a time

Stargate armour debuts at Kelowna expo

The Kelowna Fan Experience will feature Jaffa armour from Stargate SG-1

Vancouver artist rocks to fight opioid crisis

Jeremy Allingham is set to bring his guitar-focused rock ‘n roll to Kelowna April 6, Vernon June 9

World Down Syndrome Day: The up side of Down

A Kelowna family’s journey with Down Syndrome: ‘There is tremendous beauty in these kids’

Crook’s Corner

Arts and entertainment highlights this week across the Okanagan

Heavy ice off Canada coast strands pod of dolphins, fixating small town

The small Newfoundland community, Heart’s Delight, is fixated on plight of trapped dolphins

Foreign election interference a reality, says Trudeau after Putin re-election

Trudeau said the heavy use of social media and interference by foreign actors are the new reality in elections.

Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears of electoral meddling

Privacy experts say numerous Canadians are taking to other social media platforms to join in on the #DeleteFacebook hashtag

Schools close as spring snow storm tracks toward Maritime provinces

Schools are closing across the Maritime provinces as a spring snow storm tracks towards the region.

Son of late Canadian professor fights for mother’s release from Iran

Mehran Seyed-Emami’s father, an Iranian-Canadian professor, died in an Iranian jail after being accused of spying.

Deadly crash raises questions about Uber self-driving system

The fatality prompted Uber to suspend all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read