With this season's rains bringing temporary relief to the drought many people are beginning to lament the gardening that they didn't do this year.
With such extreme water restrictions still in place, most of us still see landscaping as a risk instead of an investment. Why garden at all when there is a chance that we may be forced to let everything die? Why not wait until it seems more sure that we can water?
Well, for several reasons. First of all, it takes several years for perennials and shrubs to get established and even more for trees, all of which will make your outdoor living space much less hot, dry and dusty, so you might as well start now. Charming outdoor spaces significantly increase both the curbside appeal of your house and the resale value and you are not going to achieve that without some kind of established garden. Secondly, with proper xeric plant and tree selections, the amounts of water your yard will use is only a small percentage of your overall household water usage.
Thirdly, and here is the clincher, with proper planning you will never have to let your plants die, no matter how bad the water restrictions get, because you can be using all water that is not from the city tap. The most obvious way to start this is by harvesting your rain water. Rain barrels are a start, and that water can be used manually. Cisterns are getting more popular, and are not as complicated to install and connect to your irrigation system as you might think. Right now 10,000 gallon cisterns all over the Santa Fe area are full and refilling with every major storm and cistern owners are happily irrigating away. Even if it doesn't rain, a cistern will give you the means to buy water for your garden from sources other than the city of Santa Fe.
Of course, The main reason to install a garden and landscaping at you house is that you will greatly enjoy it, each and every day.