What is Xeriscaping? Well, in 1978, some say early 1980′s, the term “Xeriscape” landscaping was coined by the Denver Water Department, in an effort help reduce water use during the peak summer months.
For many this is a conflict.
The conflict of using less water or restricting water use mixed with the desire for great looking landscaped yards.
The goal in a Xeriscape Design is:
- Create a Beautiful Landscape
- Conserve Water
- Protect the Environment
Xeriscaping creates an attractive landscape, conserves water, works in harmony with nature and is based on good horticultural practices.
What is called – 7 Sound Principles for a Successful Landscape – which are:
- Planning and design
- Soil analysis
- Practical turf areas
- Appropriate plant choices
- Efficient irrigation
- Use of mulches
- Appropriate maintenance
If you are new to xeriscaping ideas (or landscaping in general), take the time to read and discover all the information that goes along with the project.
Although xeriscaping is popular in the Southwestern US, xeriscape landscaping plans and design work just as well in Florida, Maryland and Oregon… and your backyard.
Xeriscape is a concept, not a garden design or landscape style, incorporating water conservation that may be applied to any style of landscape.
Planning And Design
Make sure you have a plan. Planning and design is the foundation of any water-wise landscape. Find out where things are located on the property, consider the view, the slope and the sun exposure. Take into consideration the existing vegetation on the site that you are intending to design.
Testing the soil is like using a ruler to measure the length of something. Instead, you are measuring the soil pH, nutrients (or lack of) and you’ll get a better idea of the soil make up.
With soil testing results in hand you can then determine what needs to be added to the soil to improve its make-up for the type of plants you plan on putting in the landscape.
Additions could be to raise the pH, improve landscape drainage or water holding capacity, add organic material or improving fertility.
Practical Turf Areas
Turf requires more water and more frequent care than many other landscape plants. “Appropriate” turf is part of a xeriscape design, but as a practical planned element.
Turf plays an important role in cooling the environment, provides a play surface for children and pets, reducing erosion, and preventing glare from the sun.
Except for providing a play area, other ground cover plants can meet those roles. Consider the desired location and size a turf area, be seasons of use and how it will be used.
Then you can determine and select the turf best suited for your space and serve your needs.
Appropriate Plant Choices
“Xeriscape plants with lower watering needs continue to show up in more nurseries. You’ll find many very attractive plants giving you the maximum water conservation, waiting to become beautiful plants in the landscape.
Many are fragrant, hold attractive leaves, long blooming seasons, provide seasonal interest and come in a wide variety of colors for less irrigated parts of the landscape.
Select plants based on their intended use in you landscape design. Native species are always a good choice.
These plants were “born” to handle their native environment. However, try to purchase native plants locally grown. They already are “hardened” for the micro-climate where you live.
Some provide autumn interest with colorful foliage and fruit, while others offer winter interest with their fruit, seed stalks, and winter colors ranging from silver, to gray, to many different green and brown shades.
Efficient irrigation does not waste water, but applies water where it is needed. When irrigating, water should be applied as efficiently as possible.
Water waste during irrigation usually comes from lack of planning, incorrect selection type of irrigation system, required adjustment of watering timing or duration or improper sprinkler spray head adjustment.
When developing an irrigation system plan – automatic, manual, or hoses moved as needed (very inefficient) – develop the system by zones – flowerbeds, turf, groundcovers, trees and/or shrubs, each managed independently. This plays a foundational part around which your plantings are designed.
For turf areas, sprinkler systems are appropriate, but micro-spray heads, soaker hoses, drip or bubbler systems are better suited and more appropriate for trees, shrubs, flowerbeds, annual and perennial plantings.
Use Of Mulches
Mulches minimize evaporation and reduce the amount of weed growth. Organic mulches such as wood chips or bark are porous mulches and excellent choices, reflecting less heat and keeping soil moist. They allow oxygen and water travel down to plant roots.
Do not use bark mulch on steep slopes as bark mulch washes away in heavy rains. Porous landscape fabrics are very useful to help control weeds when combined with a bark or gravel covering 3 to 4 inches thick.
Never use any solid plastic under the mulch or anywhere else in the landscape, plastic does allow the soil to breathe.
Some gardeners relax by spending time gardening, others enjoy a landscape requiring minimal time and effort. Design determines required maintenance.
A livable landscape requires maintenance, to maintain its health, appearance but water use as well, to maximize and utilize its resources waste.
Pruning, pest management, weeding, proper fertilizing, adjusting irrigation schedules as needed or seasons change and removing trash which has blown in.
A xeriscape garden allows you to have beautiful landscape, without excess water use. By following the above 7 Principles For Successful Xeriscaping, you’ll have a landscape that is compatible for you and your environment.