Tomorrow’s yards must be able to withstand drought

Residents urged to consider replacing lawns with plants better suited for the climate of the future

You don’t have to be a climate scientist to have noticed that the summers are becoming warmer and drier here on the South Island and around the province.

Water restrictions have become a regular occurrence and there doesn’t seem to be a day go by without one part of the province or another being blanketed by thick smoke from a nearby forest fire.

This is the new reality and one that residents of Vancouver Island and the rest of British Columbia have learned to live with. But there may soon come a time when letting our lawns turn brown over the summer and remembering to turn off the tap while we brush our teeth might not be enough anymore.

The Habitat Acquisition Trust is working hard to prepare Vancouver Islanders for that future today.

HAT is encouraging homeowners to replace their traditional grass lawns with Garry oak meadows, which go dormant over the summer but become vibrant in the winter. Jill Robinson, stewardship co-ordinator with the group, said it can take a few years to transition from water-loving plants to those that can sustain extended periods of drought.

The familiar western red cedar is one example of a tree that is not well suited for the Island’s climate of the future. Those trees will likely give way to trees that can better survive tomorrow’s climate, such as the Garry oak, arbutus, Douglas fir and Pacific dogwood.

“There’s so many, but a few that we recommend, especially in an urban setting, are ocean spray, Oregon grape, red-flowering currant, snowberry, Saskatoon berry, hairy manzanita, among others,” said Robinson.

So the next time you’re complaining about how brown your yard has become, maybe give some thought about converting it into something better able to tolerate warm and dry conditions.

It can make your yard look better, and your neighbours (and the planet) might just thank you for it.


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