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Landscape Planning

You may be surprised by the variety, beauty, and ease of landscaping that uses water efficiently. All it takes is some proper planning.

Right Grass, Right Mow

Think about your grass as millions of individual plants, each needing room to grow, air for its root system, water during its active growth stage, fertilization and proper maintenance. Check this list of turf grass to help you choose the right grass for your yard.

Consider the 1/3 rule for mowing: never remove more than 1/3 of the grass height when mowing to promote overall drought resistance. Leave grass clippings on your lawn to discourage weed germination, help preserve soil moisture and return organic matter to the soil.

Limit Lawn Area

Planting drought-tolerant plants instead of grass may require less water and fewer chemicals. A large variety of colorful, flowering, low-water plants flourish in our climate. Choosing plants native to North Carolina that flourish during dry spells and are possibly more resistant to pests and disease allows you to conserve water, time and money. Many are also favorites of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Soil Preparation

Know your soil. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) provides soil testing for free. You can pick up a soil test kit to send in at the Stevens Nature Center at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve.
Consider adding organic matter such as compost to increase the soil's water and nutrient holding capacity. Compost also helps:

  • Reduce runoff and flooding
  • Improve fertility by keeping nutrients near plant roots
  • Attract earthworms and other beneficial organisms
  • Reduce turf stress caused by drought, heat and cold


Spreading a layer of organic mulch, 3-4 inches thick, around and between plants helps conserve soil moisture, allowing you to water less often. Mulching also helps control thirsty weeds and reduces your dependence on chemical herbicides.