Staying with the theme of 2012 landscaping trends, today we want to talk xeriscaping and xerigardening.
I suppose an explanation is in order. Wikipedia gives a great definition. "Xeriscaping and xerogardening refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It is promoted in regions that do not have easily accessible, plentiful, or reliable supplies of fresh water, and is gaining acceptace in other areas as climate patterns shift."
Why xeriscape? There are definite advantages for the eco-conscious gardener. These advantages include:
- A xeriscape will lower water consumption, both imported water and ground water
- Xeriscaping increases the amount of water available for domestic and community use
- A good xeriscape plant design, along with proper grading and mulching, makes the best use of rainfall
- During periods of drought and water restrictions, xeriscape plants are more likely to survive
- The amount of time needed for maintenance is greatly decreased
Xeriscaping is based on Seven Principles of Water Conservation:
Planning and Design. Water conservation needs to be considered in the design phase. A good plan includes dividing the xeriscape into zones requiring a variety of water needs. The areas with the highest water use, known as the "oasis" area, are usually the closest to the home and the areas with the most use. This would include a patio area or front entry area. Additionally, these are the areas where you use the most color. Further out, it is best to place what is known as a "transition area" and these areas require less watering and more drought tolerant plantings. Finally, the plants that require very little maintenance or water, are typically placed the furthest from the home. This low-water zone is often too difficult to reach with easy irrigation.
Soil Amendment. Most plants benefit from compost because it helps the soil retain water, a key element of xeriscaping. Plants need to fit the soil or the soil needs to be amended to fit the needs of the plants.
Irrigation. Efficinetly irrigating by hand or sprinkler is ncessary to the xeric garden, especially during the garden's first few years. This allows plant roots to establish themselves, with a goal to dramatically decrease irrigation needs.
Plant and Zone Selection. To minimize the time spent watering and to ensure little water waste, select plants with similar needs and place them in similar areas. Light, soil needs, and water requirements are items to consider.
Mulching. Mulch does several things for the xeric garden. It keeps plant roots cool. It prevents soil from forming a crust. It minimizes water evaporation. It reduces weed growth. A good mulch cover is a no-brainer, right?
Turf. In the xeric landscape, turfgrass is necesssary. It has a cooling element, it reduces erosion and it adds interest. Chosse the correct grass for your area.
Maintenance. Low maintenance does not mean no maintenance. Your turf will have to be aerated. You will need to fertilize. You will need to prune to promote growth and blooming. And you will still have to weed. These items will just be minimized with a xeriscape.
Xeriscape is not a design, it is a concept. A concept that reduces water consumption and is versatile enough to be incorpated into whatever style of landscaping you favor. Xeriscaping does not limit color, texture or fragrance. New plant offering show up regularly, and your personality and preferences can be easily showcased in a xeric garden.