On a recent trip to Denver Botanical Gardens, I observed the relationship between plants and water usage. As you may remember, this past summer we had many days of over 90 degrees with long stretches of no rainfall and restrictions on water usage. This type of occurrence happens every 8-10 years in NJ, but water usage could become more of a problem in the future if supply becomes limited. Some of the things that can be done in the landscape to conserve water are as follows:

1. Mulching of landscape beds.

2. Adding compost to soil prior to planting.

3. Drip irrigation for efficient use of water.

4. Proper plant selection.

5. Reduction of turfgrass usage.

Colorado receives less than 10 inches of rainfall per year; therefore, plant selection is key. Many of the plants growing in the botanical garden were native in nature and therefore, have adapted to low water consumption. In our state of NJ, we have wide ranging choices of native plants as well as exotic plants that grow successfully here. Both natives and exotics have adaptations for drought stress.

One group of plants that offer these special adaptations are ornamental grasses. Grasses offer a vertical element of varying heights, textures, colors, dimensions, and movement to the landscape. And with their deep root system, they are able to claim moisture below the soil profile.