AD PRO’s 2023 Outdoor Forecast

“If someone is renovating their garden space,” Kwong says, “native plants are a great place to start.” They tend to have adapted to the climate they call home, so, despite its changing, they may well need less water after their establishment period. “They have also coevolved to support insect and bird diversity,” Woltz says. “Relying on the ancient ecologies that have withstood climate extremes for millennia is a good start.” 

Next step? Evaluating their actual home. For parched areas that nonetheless do offer ground for planting, Little recommends drought-tolerant plants. “Lavenders, artemisias, sedums, and Russian sage are all excellent,” he says. Urban environments are more challenging. “For containerized plantings, if people can invest in an irrigation system at the outset, they will conserve a lot more water. Sound plant selection can minimize water usage and create islands of green.”

Some water is mandatory, however. Cisterns and barrels can harvest rainfall with minimal effort; attractive ones can add interest to the garden, and less appealing ones can be tucked underground. “They are a terrific idea to offset the use of treated drinking water in the garden, which is a terrible waste of resources,” Woltz says. In cities, rainwater infiltration systems may allow water to flow into and through the subsurface soil. “They are becoming the law in many places,” he says, “as the cumulative benefits can recharge aquifers and reduce risk of the flowing and scouring of streams and rivers from storm intensity.”

They are an elegant solution, Kwong says. “I’m seeing a lot of designers using green space—swales, for example, which are shallow, gently sloped channels often lined with rocks and vegetation used to trap sediment and other contaminants.” While we’re at it, why not make the swale a garden itself? “Rain gardens are another beautiful stormwater management solution, reducing runoff through native plantings with deep root systems and berms.” 

It might sound complicated, but finding solutions to problems is what designers do. “Clients hire a good design firm to help facilitate a space that adds beauty to their lives,” Klausing says, “giving them a place to venture out of the house and find refuge.” Shelter from a storm, in other words. “As the weather grows more extreme,” Kwong says, “we must begin leading with ecological thinking and then build the project from there.”

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