Xeriscaping Your Yard – An Overview

With the serious drought conditions across the Southern and Western states, more and more homeowners are considering xeriscapes (xeriscaping their yards) as a way to both conserve water and beautify their yards. For the people saying “What the heck is xeriscaping?”, it isn’t nearly as mysterious as it probably sounds.


Xeriscaping a Front Yard

Xeriscaping is simply the conservation of water through landscaping, and gardening in a fashion that reduces or eliminates the necessity for supplemental irrigation. The saying xeriscape originates from ‘xeros’ (the Greek word for dry) and landscaping. For many, it brings to mind the look and feel of a desert, but xeriscaping isn’t limited to plants from the desert, but more appropriately plants that are attuned to your area’s annual rainfall.

Xeriscaping was originally developed for arid climates

The basic principles of xeriscape, however, may be and are increasingly applied just about anywhere. With water now being considered a scarce resource, any landscaping projects, from residential to commercial, might be converted to xeriscapes. Almost any type of landscaping can be enhanced with Xeriscaping techniques.

Advantages of a Xeriscaped Yard:

- Low maintenance: Pruning and weeding still have to be done, but because watering requirements are low, the time and effort (and money) associated with maintaining the landscaping are minimal.

- Water conservation: In the United states, about 50% of residential water is dedicated to landscapes and lawns. Xeriscape principles can help to eliminate that water use by 50 to 75%.

- Fertilizers or pesticides aren’t needed: By using plants indigenous to your area, you can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Because they build up healthy soil, all the nutrients required for growth will be produced naturally by your native plants.

- Going Green: Since large regions of grass are not natural in many parts of the world, xeriscapes usually have only small amounts of turf. By decreasing the amount of grass requiring mowing, fertilization and watering, less fuel is required to maintain your yard.

- Property value: A Xeriscape can increase the value of your property by ensuring drought-resistent and low-maintenance landscaping for your yard.

- Provides habitat for native wildlife: Native plants and timber can offer a familiar and diverse habitat for local wildlife, improving the natural appeal of your community.

The seven principles of designing a Xeriscape:

1. Improve soil quality: A properly prepared soil base is effective in absorbing and retaining water, so increasing the relative amount of organic material in the soil is an important requirement for quality xeriscaped landscaping.

2. Prepare yourself: Identify the sunny and shady areas, and any slopes that may need consideration within your design. Plan the groupings of your plants requiring the same amount of aeration and shade/sun levels.

3. Install efficient watering systems: Even the hardiest drought-resistent plants may need watering until established. Purchase a drip water system or, at minimum a soaker hose, and learn how to water less often and more deeply into the soil. Plan watering periods during low evaporation periods of the day.

4. Minimize the amount of turf: Grassy areas must be in areas where they’re most likely to be used often, and kept to some minimum size.

5. Choose plants appropriate for your area: Most local nurseries can assist you sun/shade/watering needs.

6. Maintainence: Obviously a good yard with xeriscaping needs attention, from pruning the trees and planting perennials to keeping the watering system functioning.

7. Lots of mulch: Plenty of mulch will conserve water through decreased evaporation. The mulch ill also choke out weeds and eventually decompose into even more helpful organic material to enhance the soil.

The principles are straightforward and the short term and long term rewards are compelling.

Xeriscaping your yard or garden is a Win/Win – go for it…

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