Water-Saving Landscaping Ideas for Traditional Style Homes
For most of us, when we think of drought-tolerant design – also known as xeriscaping – the gardens of Mediterranean and Southwestern-style homes come to mind. Why? Because those climates require water-efficient plants and trees, and they make the most use of drought-resistant landscaping techniques. But, what if you own a more traditional-style home, like a colonial or Victorian and you want a water-saving lawn?
It's tradition for the traditional styles to sport lawns with vast swaths of grass, hedges, rosebushes and other water-hungry plants. But, the good news is there are plenty of options for grasses, shrubs, and plants with lots of color to create beautiful landscaping, and they won't suck your water system dry.
Not all grasses have the water demands of typical turf. Drought-tolerant No-Mow Fine Fescue or Buffalograss replaces a standard lawn behind the shingle-style home shown above.
A splash of lavender from some roses or fuchsia from a bougainvillea would look picture perfect next to a traditional house. But maybe you don't have the time or money for the upkeep.
BE Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz
This traditional cottage offers the same bursts of color, with a "lawn" of creeping thyme and a rich and colorful front yard with a drought-tolerant ground cover and shrubs.
Large bushes of Spanish lavender (Lavendula stoechas) serve up some water-saving purple magic.
Robert Shuler Design, original photo on Houzz
In yet a different lawn variant, the drought-tolerant grasses in this rustic heath provide this English country classic home with a soft green carpet, but one that is much more water efficient than manicured turf.
When you do want lots of green and color, combine different grasses and drought-tolerant flowering bushes, like one of the many forms of lavender. While most traditional flowers and lawns slurp up water, a yard like this can surround you with nature and color and be largely self-supporting once established.
Le jardinet, original photo on Houzz
In this colorful garden, drought-tolerant plantings show that you can save water and still pile on all the reds, yellows, oranges, blues, greens and purples you want. Bright daylily (Hemerocallis) and reddish-hued smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) form the foreground of this lovely landscape.
Beinfield Architecture PC, original photo on Houzz
Sometimes, however, the answer for saving water is a little more hardscaping and a little less lawn. The approach works well for this traditional farmhouse in New York.
If you add hardscaping, try to design it in a way that allows water to seep into the soil below. In other words, don't create a solid concrete or stone surface, but rather one that's permeable. That will reduce risks of soil erosion where the water leaves your hardscaping and will reduce the load on your municipality's storm water sewers.
Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects, original photo on Houzz
Segmenting a garden with walls and pathways reduces the planting area — and water demand — while creating interesting spaces and providing natural focal points. What's more traditional than a courtyard garden?
(A huge shout-out to Ira Johnson of Rainscape Design in San Francisco for his invaluable assistance identifying the plant varieties shown in this ideabook.)