Voice of the Land


Using Common Sense to Get Through a Drought. It’s Your Best Weapon!

drought effects on plants in the westThe West has been under attack the last several years…by a lack of water. Few days go by without seeing images of dry soil, dry lake beds and dry crops. Farming, drinking water, summer and winter recreation have all been affected.

So, perhaps, has your garden and your yard. Landscapes are vulnerable to lots of hazards, none more devastating than minimal water, or the mismanagement of what moisture is available.

There are some simple steps you can take, and start to take, to deal with drought. With ongoing attention, your garden, landscape, and even your well, can thrive and improve. The attitude needs to be to do everything you can to use all the moisture that is made available by not letting any of it get away.

Warren Brush, an innovative California farmer and the founder of Quail Springs Permaculture,  has become famous worldwide for his own methods and teaching of drought mitigation. His efforts reportedly have even raised his own well level 140’ over the last extremely dry California winter. He captures all the moisture that falls, and, in many parts of the West it hasn’t been much.

Besides contouring his land to help hold water and not allow run-off, he preaches soil structure with added compost and manure. This accomplishes fertilization without chemicals, creates air pockets that allow water to infiltrate, prevents soil and nutrient erosion and sequesters carbon in the ground instead of in the atmosphere.

It can be a little tougher to deal with rainwater in Colorado, though. According to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, it is permissible to direct roof downspouts into your plantings, but not to collect rainwater in any other manner. That’s the law.

Brush’s success methods in bone-dry California are similar to the success in this area by good Xeriscape practices.

Here are the seven basic landscaping principles for effective Xeriscape drought mitigation:

  1. Planning and Design of the Landscape can effectively capture and hold any moisture.
  2. Soil Improvement with manure and compost
  3. Efficient Irrigation, the intelligent dispersal and use of available water, by volume, time of day, and proper equipment.
  4. Zoning of plants, keeping like ones together in the right part of the landscape, using low water-use plantings
  5. Mulches, a standard of 2” depth throughout the landscape area.
  6. Turf alternatives. What can your yard be besides thirsty grass?
  7. Appropriate and on-going Maintenance that either you, or your professional landscape firm provides throughout the year.

And, you may have heard the term “Rain Garden”. The Colorado Stormwater Center at Colorado State University has a handy brochure, here, called, appropriately, “Building a Rain Garden”. The principles are similar. The professionals can do it best!

Drought is tough. But, now, all over the world, educators are succeeding in putting into practice good mitigation habits to aid in future food supplies…and a vibrant landscape…even here in the West! Call your landscape professionals at Art of the Land  to help you make the most of our water and your yard! It’s just Common Sense!

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Good Xeriscape design makes the most out of our dry climate.




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