Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Beauty of Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping: what does this word mean and how do you say it? Pronounced like the first letter is a Z, xeriscaping means using plants that require minimal water levels to survive and incorporating other items like rocks, bricks or benches instead of grass. Does this mean that you’ll end up with an unsightly rock yard? No! Xeriscaping can be a beautiful landscaping solution when planned and executed appropriately.

With water being a pricey and limited resource, people are becoming more and more aware and resourceful about conserving it. Even though xeriscaping originally was developed in drought-prone areas, this landscaping idea has gained popularity all over the country. What are the guidelines for creating an attractive garden using xeriscaping techniques?

1. Planning and design – A smart xeriscaping approach requires thoughtful planning up front. Consider how you use your space and what kind of look you desire. Study the drainage patterns and contours of your land, and if things like retaining walls or terraces would be helpful. The goal is to not only add visual interest but also to reduce erosion. Keep in mind walkways, seating, dining, recreation, or visual barriers that you’d like to incorporate.
2. Lawn – Create limited areas of turf as much as possible, keeping small portions of grass if desired for visual appeal, open spaces, or functionality. Select types of turf with low water requirements and design turf spaces that are easily irrigated and mowed, which means avoiding narrow strips or sharp turns.
3. Irrigation – Water conservation is the goal. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are the most efficient and simplest watering for xeriscapes. They deliver water right to the plant base, reducing moisture loss due to evaporation. Remember that it is best to water deeply and less often.
4. Soil – Soil in xeriscapes should drain quickly, yet also store water effectively. Increasing the level of organic material in the soil helps reach this goal, as well as keeping it well-aerated. Covering bare soil with mulch also helps.
5. Mulch – To minimize evaporation, slow erosion and limit weed growth, cover the surface of soil around plants with 2-4 inches of mulch. You can choose from options like wood chips, gravel, bark, pine needles, leaves or compost.
6. Plant selection – Choose plants native to your region. Look for plants with glossy, small, thick or fuzzy leaves because these tend to hold water. Don’t mix plants with different watering requirements in the same area, but group those with similar needs together.
7. Maintenance – A well planned xeriscape lowers the amount of ongoing maintenance required, making this one of the greatest benefits of xeriscaping. Keep your mulch layer thick to reduce weed growth, and don’t cut turf too short because higher grass acts as a natural mulch and helps retain moisture. Don’t over-fertilize your landscaping.

All of these steps will help provide the beautiful curb appeal possible with proper xeriscaping techniques. Consider this efficient way of conserving water and reducing your landscaping maintenance, while still having an attractive property that puts a smile on your face.

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