Water Shortage in 2012 and What it Means for Garden Design
Today’s news is rife with reports of imminent hosepipe bans across various UK regions – and it’s not even May yet! But garden designers and landscape gardeners are putting paid to the predictions, with confident reports that water useage (and, what’s more, garden design featuring water useage) will ride the storm.
There is no doubt that most on the minds of garden landscaping professionals right now are issues surrounding water, whether it’s the use of water or the cleaning of water. And this is very much the case worldwide too. In fact, much can be learnt from landscape garden professionals abroad who battle these problems in dryer and hotter climates.
In light of recent droughts in US states such as Georgia, Texas and the Carolinas for example, US citizens are trying to use the water that they DO have more frugally. People are making sure that they are watering responsibly, choosing plants that are not water hogs and even putting rain sensors on their irrigation systems. American gardeners and garden designers are also focusing on making sure their irrigation systems are monitored so that they are not watering their driveways and pathways!
If we can adopt these more responsible gardening attitudes, then we may well be able to weather the water shortage storm in the UK too! But of course even the mere rumour of water shortage will effect the disciplines of garden design and landscape design enormously.
Landscape designers and garden designers such as Tom Stuart Smith, Andy Sturgeon, Randle Siddeley and Arabella Lennox-Boyd are all predicting that the Mediterranean style of garden will be a huge trend this year.
Randle Siddeley explains that Mediterranean landscape design often features open and airy courtyards, light-coloured, textured hardscaping such as mosaic walls, gravel beds or unglazed terracotta pots, as well as low-growing, drought-tolerant plants, hedges, topiary trees and vines (such as olive, bay and lemon trees, lavender and grasses). And of course, the vivid colours of these kinds of planting combinations make for a winning style of landscape garden. So expect to see them in garden design near you soon!
Then there is the subject of cleaning water for our gardens, especially storm water - which may carry pollutants such as fertilisers into local waterways. A fairly recent development in garden design is the evolution of ‘rain gardens’. These shallow depressions in the landscape are designed to be filled with deep-rooted native plants and grasses that not only thrive when flooded with water but that don’t mind being dry either. A win win garden design scenario.
And of course you don’t have to be a seasoned professional garden designer to know that catching your own rainwater in water butts, and cleaning or recycling grey water (wastewater from domestic activities like laundry, dishwashing and bathing), is a wise gardening move. In fact, as much as our household recycling habits have become mandatory, so too might our water recycling habits before too long! You may even find your local council checking up on your water useage if you’re not careful!