Xeriscape Landscape Design

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Jan 01, 2011 | Steve Graham
Xeriscape

Xeriscape landscaping used to be a rare gardening choice primarily employed by the environmentally obsessed worried about their water usage. However, xeriscape landscape design is growing in popularity as such water concerns spread – both for environmental reasons and to save on water bills. It was first defined in Denver, and it remains most widely used in Colorado and other dry western states. However, xeriscape landscape design is an attractive option for most any climate without enough precipitation to maintain a thirsty lawn.

Defining Xeriscape Landscape Design

The concept of xeriscape landscape design is often misunderstood. It is not “zero-scaping,” which might imply a lifeless yard covered in bark or pebbles. It might instead be called “smart-scaping.” It is all about creating a diverse and attractive garden that is drought-resistant and mainly focused on minimal water or maintenance.

Planning Xeriscape Landscape Design

The main elements to avoid in xeriscape landscape design are turf lawns and plants that need lots of water. If you just can’t live without grass, choose Zoysia and other low-water varieties, and keep your grass patches close to the house and easy to water efficiently without wasting water on paths, patios and xeriscape plants.

Instead, focus xeriscape landscape design on aesthetics and variety while minimizing watering and simplifying maintenance. Planning a xeriscape landscape design is important. Be sure to leave pathways or plain mulch areas between gardens to simplify watering and weeding. Use terracing on sloped surfaces and berms downslope from trees to minimize water runoff.

Maintaining Xeriscape Landscape Design

Prepare soil carefully for xeriscape landscape design. Use compost and other natural fertilizers before planting. You should be using mainly perennials in your xeriscape landscape design, so advance soil preparation is important. Also, add mulch and focus on low-water groundcover plants. This will inhibit evaporation, erosion and weed growth.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, water efficiently. Saving water is the main objective in xeriscape landscape design. There are variations within drought-resistant plants, so place your plants according to water needs. Use long, deep watering every week or so instead of more regular, brief watering cycles. Another option is a water-saving drip irrigation system.

If you follow all these steps, you will have drought-resistant xeriscape landscape design that can save water and money while creating a unique and beautiful garden.

Author Steve Graham is an expert on green building who writes for several home improvement publications. He’s full of great, practical home improvement answers, and incidentally, he’s pretty funny – so send him a message.

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