Chatham and surrounding counties are suffering from extreme drought conditions, which are defined “as those expected once in 50 years.” Not just Savannah, but the whole state is subject to a “level-2 outdoor water-use schedule,” under which watering is allowed from midnight to 10 a.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at odd-number street addresses and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at even-number addresses. It’s banned all day on Fridays. Some local governments in Georgia are considering complete outdoor watering bans.
Nonetheless, a stroll around just about any Savannah neigborhood will reveal plenty evidence that residents are apparently unaware or unimpressed by the outdoor watering ban. Last year in at least one North Georgia county, violators were threatened with $1,000 fines, jail time and water service disconnection. Without a clear enforcement mechanism or sanctions here in Savannah, watering schedule compliance is pretty much voluntary.
But there is a better way for folks who don’t want to be sprinkler scofflaws: Xeriscaping. Landscaping with plants that do not require supplemental irrigation frees gardeners from the agonizing choice between watching their plants shrivel and breaking the law.
The Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at The Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens here in Savannah is a great place to learn about drought resistant plants and how to deploy them in a garden. While the term “drought-resistant” may conjure up visions of cacti, there are more than 50 species on the Bamboo Farm’s xeriscape plant list, and I don’t think any of them have spines.