by Charlene Burgi
A co-worker and I were discussing how people approach huge projects. Some people turn everything within the scope of work upside down and inside out, while others would be overwhelmed by this approach. We both agreed we do best by prioritizing a small portion of the project that requires the most attention, then moving to the next area on the list.
While this advice seems elementary and logical, often a job can seem so overwhelming that we end up creating a bigger mess or walking away without doing anything.
Is this the case for those of you who are not sure how to achieve the more water-efficient garden you desire? Are you seeing mixed hydrozones (plants with different water needs being watered on the same irrigation zone), or different sprinkler types watering at the same time (drip mixed with spray systems and/or rotators)? Are sun plants mixed with shade plants? Are you trying to keep your shade plants happy growing in the sun by pouring more water on them? Added to this fray is mulching and composting . . . and don’t forget the weeding. (Those darn weeds steal the water from the plants we are trying to keep alive.) And then there’s the major project of converting a thirsty garden to something more sustainable.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, don’t despair. Each project can be completed little by little. First, find the eyesore in your garden. If the whole yard needs work, start with the area that gets your attention the most. Second, use an easy fix like sheet mulching to control weeds and improve soil conditions. Cardboard and mulch will quickly eliminate many visual problems. Third, add plants as needed that share common water and sun exposure requirements with other plants nearby. Fourth, convert to inline drip systems to eliminate problems with poor hydrozoning. (See your local irrigation supply house for conversion parts.)
Once you have finished one area, move on to the next. Enjoy the process. Remember, gardening is an evolution not a marathon.