Water Wise Gardening On Vancouver Island


The supply of water is growing more and more valuable. Water conservation is very important and most communities are abiding by water restrictions throughout the summer.  Vancouver Island suburbs use a large percentage of outdoor water usage for aesthetic gardening with a majority of the water budget being used up by turf. This reality has many homeowners wanting to shift their usage.

But where to start? If you want to keep your Turf, then keep it healthy as it will ease into periods of drought gracefully….

Some good examples in creating healthy turf

– Allow turf to go into dormancy during the hot season.
– Healthy soil creates a healthy lawn. This leaves less room for weeds to grow.
– Always have sharp, clean blades on your mower, and raise the mowing heights whenever possible.
– Don’t bag your lawn clippings. Lawn clippings feed the lawn and spread grass seed.
– Add natural amendments such as compost to increase organic content in the soil.
– Alternate mowing angles to prevent rut damage by over compacting the soil.
– Over seeding with drought tolerant species eg; fescues and clover


Reducing the amount of lawn area is ultimately the best way to cut back on cosmetic water usage. Good design is essential for long term water wise gardening. Look at the property as a blank slate, and imagine all the access points and better usage of the space. Good Design looks at all facets of the landscape, and considers the immediate need and long term goals.

Ultimately water wisdom comes by prioritizing your needs and assessing your usage.. This helps to create balance in any landscape.

Too much of anything is a bad thing, and that goes for watering too!

When we over water, and over fertilize we create dependant plants that struggle to survive without us.

An example of this recently….

We have a client that has taken on a new responsibilities in her garden after her husband passed away. They both loved to garden, they just did things very differently. Watering was one of these issues, the years of over watering had left a Japanese Maple in a stressed state. It was diagnosed with a ‘wilt’ disease, most likely verticillium wilt. and it was suffering. As spring turned into summer the tree was getting worse, we had made many attempts the previous fall to increase the health of the area but this poor tree was unable to recover. When we discovered that the tree was over watered everyday for 7 years (as if it was an annual planter basket) I knew this was a red flag for stress. We ended up removing the maple after it was unable to recover. 

Ways of reducing your water bill in garden beds

– Keep the soil healthy, keep the microbes healthy!
– An established garden should be watered deeply and infrequently.
– Increase organic matter and keep it covered with mulch.
– Keep compaction to a minimum, stay out! on rainy days and use pavers for access paths.
– Only mulch that which you intend to protect! Mulch is like a warm blanket – its only useful when its covering something important! so add your compost/manure and then cover it!

– Select plants that are naturally drought tolerant.
– Place plants with wider spacing allowing them to grow into the garden.
– Purchase young plants as they are resilient to change and more willing to send new roots than older ‘container-established’ plants.
– Create shade; tree’s, large shrubs and pergolas are great at cooling gardens.

There are many more tips and suggestions, stay tuned!

Please post any of your own remedies for beating the heat in the garden and reducing your water usage!

For more information about Nature’s Choice Design Click Here

Only mulch that which you intend to protect! Mulch is like a warm blanket – its only useful when its covering something important!

Bark Nuggets; Xeriscaping

Douglas Fir Bark nuggets as the finished mulch product. Under the nuggets is fine fir mulch, and fish compost.


Our newest Installation!

We had the pleasure of working in Columbia Beach B.C. (French Creek area) for the past three weeks. The Herring Spawn takes place this time every year, it adorns us with life around the oceanside communities on Vancouver Island BC. This year we had the pleasure of having a very active wildlife around us, some times it was hard to stay focused, and other times it was exactly what we needed to keep us motivated!
For us, wildlife/sea life has a way of keeping us in a healthy perspective, and we wanted to honor that by creating a landscape that would offer birds food, reptiles sanctuary, and rabbits….. a place to hop on by 🙂
We had many design contraints; we had the oceanic issues, the slope of the landscape, no irrigation, privacy issues, and no soil to work with!
So! We worked through the design process and we continued to have a dynamic approach to rising issues throughout the installation. At the end of the three weeks this is what we accomplished….

Click Here for before and after photos with a brief description of the site.

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