Steele: World Water Week: Conserving water in your garden

Twenty-four per cent of all water used in the Okanagan goes onto residential landscapes.

Twenty-four per cent of all water used in the Okanagan goes onto residential landscapes. Indoors, we use seven per cent, while agriculture accounts for 55 per cent, golf courses five per cent, and parks and open spaces two per cent.

Outdoor water is the same treated drinking water we use indoors.

The cost of our water will escalate as public health regulations for water purification become increasingly stringent, requiring more expensive treatment facilities.

As the pressure on our water supply increases through expanding population, increasing high temperatures and summer drought, watering restrictions will become the norm. Outdoor residential water use will be targeted.

Landscapes that have been created or modified, to be prepared for drought and watering restrictions, will thrive.

Conventional landscapes will be stressed as will the gardeners looking after them.

Twenty years ago, when researching what would grow in a dry sunny location with little or no supplemental water, I discovered the Principles of Xeriscape.

Xeriscaping is gardening in harmony with Mother Nature instead of fighting her.

Following the seven principles of xeriscape maximized my results while minimizing costs. I was hooked.

The simple act of mulching (placing a layer of organic matter such as compost or well rotted manure over the surface of soil or turf) can be used in any garden and on lawns to reduce water needs, improve soil and feed plants.

As gardeners age, repetitive tasks such as weeding and mowing become challenging.

Young gardeners often find they have little time in their busy lives for tending a conventional garden.

Xeriscaping can greatly reduce labour in the garden making it an enjoyable life-enhancing pastime for all ages rather than a dreaded chore.

Xeriscape landscapes are colourful and attractive.

With the diversity of water-wise plant species available, almost any style of gardening is possible.

There are simple ways to drastically reduce landscape water use, saving time and money.

Less mowing, trimming, weeding, watering and fertilizing are needed.

Plants thrive. Healthy plants are highly resistant to pests and diseases, reducing or eliminating the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Because of my passion to help people garden successfully, I have been teaching xeriscaping for the past 12 years.

I invite you to attend my Introduction to the Seven Principles of Xeriscape class.

The principles of design and planning, soil improvement, practical turf areas, efficient irrigation, use of mulch, good maintenance, and appropriate plant selection are illustrated with photos.

There is practical information for making changes to an existing landscape as well as for creating a new landscape and for those who are new to gardening in the Okanagan.

The two night class, on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m., at the H2O Aquatic Centre, 4075 Gordon Dr., has a choice of three start dates: March 29, April 12, or April 26.

Cost is $50/ person or $90/couple from same household.

For more information and to register, go to the classes page at www.okanaganxeriscape.org or call 250-762-6018.