Add A Stream To Your
Drought-Tolerant Landscape

Garden Of Eva - Swimming Pool

The New Normal

As California's drought continues with no end in sight, I have had a substantial increase in client interest in turning front and back yards into drought-tolerant or Xeriscape landscapes.

The reason for this is obvious; it saves an enormous amount of water since grass can easily consume over half a gallon of water per square foot every time you water. To put that into perspective, a 100' x 100' lawn uses 6,230 gallons of water every time your sprinkler heads pup up. In addition to saving water and saving the cost of all of that water, it saves substantially on the amount of time and energy needed to maintain the landscape – no grass to cut and most native and drought-tolerant plants require little or no maintenance.

But What Will It Look Like?

This is the question every client asks after they acknowledge the importance of saving water. My answer is to tell them that drought-tolerant, Xeriscape landscaping has been done for centuries all along the Mediterranean, although it wasn't called that; it was just the way folks created gardens when there was very little available water. And the gardens of the Costa Del Sol, the South of France, the Italian Riviera, and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Malta and Greece are filled with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the in the world and with nary a blade of grass in sight.

Add A Stream – Wet or Dry

There are a number of ways to turn a grassy front and/or back yard into a stunning drought-tolerant garden. Any well-designed landscape takes into the consideration the confirmation of the property and the architecture of the structure. It's not just about ripping out the grass and sticking plants in the ground.

If you have the space and a little elevation, a stream can be created that can turn a boring piece of property into a stunning garden.

A Dry Stream Bed

If you love the idea of a stream that is filled with interesting rocks and gravel and lined with groupings of succulents and native plants but don't want the expense or responsibility of dealing water, then a dry stream bed is the way to go.

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A Babbling Brook or a Meandering Stream

There are as many ways to create a stream as there are streams; it all depends on the lay of the land, how you want it to perform and the size of your budget. By harnessing the fact that water always runs down hill, your stream can meander down even a modest slope, tumbling over falls and trickling through turns before being pumped back to its point of origin. The higher the slope the more that can be done, but it's important to keep it in scale to the property and make it look natural to the land through which it flows.

There are a number of things to consider including water runoff in the event of rain, and what happens if there is a power outage and the water does not recirculate.

To Build Or Not To Build It Yourself

Building a stream is a major undertaking for most do-it-yourselfers, so consider hiring a pro, at least for parts of the project that may be beyond your abilities.

There are a number of videos on YouTube that will give you a clear understanding of what's involved. Here are three that take you through the entire process:

Stream Planning Checklist

  • Identify underground utilities and easements. Build the stream on your property, not in easements, and know ahead of time where utilities are buried.
  • Check on building permits. In most areas, building codes for swimming pools apply to water features.
  • Think about wiring needs. In addition to wiring for a pump, decide where you want nighttime lighting. Plan ahead to enjoy your stream after dark.
  • Plan truck access. A large dump truck will need a place to deliver several tons of gravel and stone.

Garden Consultation & Gift Certificates

If you're interested in learning more about our design, contracting and maintenance services and would like to set up a phone consultation or arrange a site inspection, please fill out our Contact Information Form and I'll be in touch.

In addition to my work as a landscape designer and contractor, I love giving advice and have provided garden consultations to any number of folks with great results.

I am also pleased to offer Garden Of Eva Gift Certificates for those of you who would like to provide a truly unique, thoughtful and very special gift—suitable for holiday giving or for any special occasion. There are three levels of Certificates, depending on the scope of the work involved. If you'd like to see what's being offered, please CLICK HERE.

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Plant Of The Month
Coreopsis Moonbeam

The redbud is a tree that is valued far more than its small size might suggest. This lovely harbinger of spring has been called "a breath of fresh air after a long winter" and no less than "one of our most beautiful native trees" by tree expert Michael Dirr.

What makes the redbud so special is its gift of spring color and its hardy adaptability. This little tree, which usually grows no taller than 30 feet, bears showy pink flowers in very early spring, flowers lasting for two to three weeks. The leaves also emerge with a reddish color, giving way to a lustrous summer green and finally to a striking fall yellow. Even in winter this little tree is pleasant to behold, with its arching limbs and rounded crown. Its size and adaptability make it as welcome in a forest setting as in a home landscape, where it can serve admirably as a specimen tree or in groups.

The Redbud's Place in History

Early settlers found the blossoms of the redbud a delicious addition to their salads. Early folk healers used the bark to treat common maladies and sometimes even leukemia. And many Native Americans chose the wood of the California redbud for their bows. But the sheer springtime beauty of the redbud may be its greatest hold on the American spirit.

Some Common Species

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is native to the eastern woodlands from New Jersey to northern Florida and westward to the Great Plains. It grows up to 35 feet tall, with a slightly wider spread. Many a landscape is made all the more beautiful with the addition of an eastern redbud, which is distinguishable by divided, multiple trunks, a graceful, rounded crown, and flowers of pink (or, in some varieties, white) borne in groups of four to eight. (Grows in hardiness zones 4 to 9.)

The California redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is a small, shrub-like tree seldom reaching 20 feet tall and native from southern Utah and Nevada through California to Arizona. It is known for its red-purple flowers and for notch-tipped and smaller leaves than those found on other redbuds. (Grows in hardiness zones 7 to 9.)

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