Spring Garden Planning Saves Time, Water, Money

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Warm weather, flowering fruit trees, the reappearance of lizards and toads along with increased activity among the birds and squirrels are all signs that spring is here. Those of us with gardening instincts find ourselves spending more and more time outdoors, readying our own little plots of creation for the growing season ahead.

Reflecting on the snows of this past winter and our ample spring rains, it seems hard to imagine that a dry spell could be just around the corner.

But in June, when the Rim country is normally its driest, vegetables are growing in spurts, flowers and perennial shrubs are approaching their peaks, and fruit is putting on size and weight.

Planning ways to conserve water will give plants a growing advantage in the summer and will save you time, energy and money on your water bill.

Now is a good time to plan and install decks, walkways and patios elements that designers call "hardscape." A well-designed hardscape can enhance the architecture of a home, and increase its value. Hardscaping also provides alternatives to grass and other high water-use landscape plants.

To soften the edges of a stone or concrete patio, include planters, which provide interest and water conserving locations for plants. Incorporate plans for utilizing runoff from downspouts, driveways, walkways and patios into an overall irrigation plan for your property.

Give your drip system a good spring servicing, or install a drip system to eliminate water waste and overuse. Visit your local plant nursery for free booklets on designing and maintaining a good drip system.

Familiarize yourself with the plants that are available. Incorporate as many native and low water-use plants as possible into your plan. You'll save money and maintenance labor.

To learn more about water-wise gardening, attend the Water-wise Landscape and Gardening Festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 28 at Julia Randall Elementary School.

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