A lawn is the worst use of your yard: too much care and cost (for mowing, fertilizing and reseeding) and none of the benefits—shade, soil protection, flowers or fruit— that a shrub or tree provides.
1. Mulch any bare earth.
2. Lay brick or pebble paths to let rainwater sink into the soil; avoid cement or asphalt.
3. Use gravel on driveways and shady or oft-trodden areas where plants won’t grow.
4. Cooler sans costs
• Shade south- facing walls with overhangs, awnings or trees.
• Use reflective white tiles on terraces to thwart the summer sun.
5. If you have a reverse-osmosis (RO) water purifier, the mineral-rich waste water is great for plants.
6. Use a watering can rather than a hose for container plants and add mulch. Native plants that are well mulched don't need to be watered daily.
7. Instead of automated sprinklers, save water and electricity with trickle irrigation or soaker hoses.
8. Plant rain lily bulbs. They spread fast, looking like lush long-bladed grass which needs next to no care, and bloom into a bright pink carpet with the first rain shower.
9. Water in free fall
• If you live in a monsoon-blessed region, harvest the rains for chores which don’t require potable water: in washing machines, to wash the car, mop, for hobbies such as painting, in an inverter.... It’s as pure as distilled water, so no mineral scum.
10. Green returns: If you’re building, design around the existing trees, take precautions to preserve them from damage. In return, you get:
• A great view
• Lower air-condi- tioning bills
• Greater privacy
• A more attractive property to sell or rent out.