If you're a homeowner in a region of the country that sometimes has droughts and water restrictions, you may be interested in ways to save water both indoors and out. If your landscaping isn't getting watered by the rain, you'll have to water the plants yourself to keep them alive; and that can take a lot of water.
In some cases, you can reduce water use by choosing drought-tolerant plants, but even with these types of plants, you can save even more water by strategically using landscaping materials such as mulch to help reduce evaporation. This can hold any available moisture in place longer and give the plants' roots a better chance to get a good drink.
Here are some types of mulch you can use to make your yard more water-efficient.
Crushed rock can be great for desert landscapes, xeriscaping, and heat-loving plants. Not only does this type of mulch accentuate the desert look, but it can help reflect the sun's light back away from the soil. The less heat that reaches the soil, the less evaporation will take place.
Crushed rock is best for plants that love lots and lots of heat and light, though. That's because reflected light can hit plants on its way back, effectively increasing the amount of light the plants are exposed to.
Plastic or landscape fabric
Plastic sheeting or plastic-based woven landscape fabric is another type of mulch you can use, although it may look better with another layer on top of it for aesthetic purposes. Plastic sheeting keeps basically all water from moving in or out of the soil from above, which certainly reduces evaporation but can also make watering more difficult.
If you use plastic sheeting, you'll need to cut holes in it for each landscaping plant and be sure to water only in the hole, as the water won't get through otherwise. You may also want to cover it with another type of mulch, especially if it's in full sun, since black plastic can absorb and transfer sunlight and heat up the soil beneath very quickly and may overheat plants.
Bark or wood chips
Although mulch made of shredded bark and wood is more porous than plastic, it's still a very popular choice. A thick layer of these can greatly reduce evaporation from the soil while still allowing rain and sprinkler irrigation to soak through from above.
Pine straw has its pros and cons but is still a very popular landscape mulch. It's not as dense as wood chips and can sometimes blow out of place, so you may need a very thick layer to get the same amount of evaporation reduction.
You can also place pine straw over plastic mulch or landscape fabric, letting the plastic control evaporation while the pine straw adds aesthetic appeal and shades the plastic.
As you can see, you have a number of different landscaping materials available when it comes to mulching your landscape beds and increasing water efficiency.
To learn more, contact a company that provides landscaping materials.