What makes a home green? A Water Wise certified yard.
A Water Wise yard saves water and money.
The problem with standard home yards is that they include exotic plants that need large amounts of water as well as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, which are then often washed into the storm water sewer by a water hungry irrigation system. Green home yards overcome this problem by following Water Wise guidelines and using native landscape plants and water efficient irrigation systems.
So how do native plants survive on less water, and what is a Water Wise yard?
For answers to these questions, I asked an expert: Falon Mihalic of Falon Land Studio, who provides professional landscape design services in the Sarasota area. Here is Falon’s explanation in her own words:“Native Florida plants have adapted to our local Florida climate and thrive on existing rainfall and drought periods so that they need no additional water to survive. A Water wise yard includes native Florida plants and other water-saving strategies for reducing the yard’s water demand. This means that the major tree and shrub plantings are native or adapted (aka “Florida-Friendly” plants) and, in some cases, the entire plant palette consists of all native plants.
One of the easiest ways to reduce water use is by limiting or eliminating turf grass lawn cover. Turf grass requires the largest amount of irrigation of any plant type. Even replacing just a portion of your lawn with a native plants garden bed will decrease overall water usage.
A second strategy for creating a Water wise yard is to plant native shade trees that create a cool microclimate around your home. Shade decreases evapotranspiration of water from plants and helps the soil retain moisture. Keeping the soil moist is aided by appropriate mulching with pine bark or pine straw to blanket the ground surface around plants.
Finally, use of an efficient irrigation system will deliver the right amount of water to your plants only when they need it. Weather sensing systems are very accurate for delivering water at appropriate times, and micro-emitters can provide water directly to individual plant roots. I suggest creating a Water wise yard over time, by first decreasing some of your lawn and converting it to native plants, adding shade trees and mulch, and upgrading an existing sprinkler system with new efficient irrigation technology.
Creating a Water wise yard can be a great learning activity to do with kids, or as the first step in becoming a gardening enthusiast. Whether you start small by planting one native plant or you go big and redo your whole property, every reduction in water use makes a difference.”
Florida Friendly and WaterStar are also certifications that can be earned by incorporating the above principles and are an optional feature for most of the green homes presented on this website. Please see our models for more information or contact Falon on 786.763.2375 to view some of her beautiful WaterWise creations.
Thank you for visiting. Please leave a comment below and then check out the rest of our BLOG. We look forward to making Green Home living your reality.
Marius J Smook – Licensed Real Estate Eco-Broker, LEED AP for HOMES, Home Energy Rater.