It reached 106 degrees outside of Washington, D.C., in July—a temperature, combined with the humidity, that had me seriously considering a move to Antarctica. Surely they’re in need of a multifamily housing blogger over there.
While I received temporary relief sitting in the movie theater, where I fanned myself with two hours’ worth of scenes in which Channing Tatum and the rest of the “Magic Mike” cast was (un)dressed to impress, my poor flowers back at my apartment had no such luck. It was raining men in that dark auditorium, yet not a drop hit those balcony plants.
As widespread drought continues to plague not only my petunias and love life, but apartment communities in much of the country—especially in the southern Eastern Seaboard and Southwest—property managers need to reach a little deeper into their wheelbarrows for landscape options that don’t require as much water.
According to Chris Lee, President of Dallas-based Earthworks, which specializes in multifamily housing landscaping, many varieties of drought-tolerant plants and grasses offer pleasing and sustainable solutions. As vibrant and eye-catching as certain flowers may be, if they’re wilting and begging for a drink, it’s not going to do you much good.
Lee says beautiful variations of contrasting colored rock and fairly sparse plantings can evoke the effect of a healthy landscape that’s easy on the eyes. I’ve got the “fairly sparse” part down right now—not so much the “healthy.”
Natural rocks are available in a variety of colors and can add a distinctive presence to a property’s landscaping. Lee says they are inexpensive, don’t require irrigation and make great centerpieces. Most stone specialists have ample supply of rocks from the region, as well as other types of stones that can add an always-manicured look to any landscape.
When considering a drought-tolerant landscape, it’s also important to identify what (aside from weeds) is growing without man-made irrigation or supplementation. What you see in the wild, on the side of the road or in open areas is successfully playing the hand dealt by Mother Nature, Lee says.
Species vary from region to region, depending on climate, and some can be unattractive. But there are a great number of desirable plants, trees, bushes and grasses that, when placed in a similar environment to their natural setting, will flourish and give property owners a low-maintenance option during periods of limited rain and water supply.
If you follow these tips, the only heat wave you’ll need to worry about is the one on the silver screen. And trust me—that one’s worth the risk.
For more, check out “Taking Drought-Resistant Landscapes For a Dry Run” in the August issue of units magazine, which mails Aug. 8.