Drought Tolerant Landscapes and Xeriscape


The American dream usually includes having a beautiful lush green yard, but many people live in areas where only a drought tolerant landscape will be a feasible choice. Some people, unfortunately, try to pursue the idea of of a green lawn and maybe even a canvas gazebo placed close by, and fail miserably. There are other options for those of you who live in arid, dry climates where rocks, and plants that require little water or moisture, thrive. The fact that not every environment provides ideal soil, rainfall, or temperatures to accommodate turf and thirsty plants.

What is Xeriscape?

Have you heard the word, Xeriscape? This is a term coined by the Denver, Colorado water department in 1981 to respond to their drought condition. This term is now used widely to describe a method of landscaping drought tolerant areas, where water conservation is of the upmost importance. This is great information for establishing a drought tolerant landscape.

Xeriscape is an overall approach to landscape design, plant irrigation and maintenance. Many people think of this as just dirt and rocks, but it can be developed into very appealing and colorful designed yards if done correctly.

Xeriscape addresses concerns over irrigation, plant selection, and maintenance by developing a strategy many desert towns and areas that receive minimal rainfall adopt today. The seven basic principles of xeriscape includes: wise planning and design using water, low water use and drought tolerant plants, having limited area of a lawn,efficient irrigation equipment and designs for irrigation, water and harvesting techniques, surface mulch and soil amendments, and proper maintenance practices. You can practice good landscaping techniques by using colorful, texturally interesting plants, ornamental grasses and grass that will thrive in low moisture areas.

Example of a Beautiful Xeriscape

How to Design a Xeriscape Landscape

To design a landscape using the xeriscape methods, you will need to divide your property into zones based on water availability. The zone closet to your home, we will call the Oasis zone since it has the most water available. This is where you will plant turf, annuals, or potted plants. It is a fact that high water-use plants will help cool your home.

The next zone from your home will be the Transition zone. By using water harvesting techniques wisely, we can provide necessary moisture to drought tolerant trees, shrubs and ground covers. Such techniques as, channeling and collecting runoff water.

The next zone is the Arid zone. This zone includes plants that can survive on rainwater. Most likely, this will be plants or vegetation that appears naturally in the landscape.

Choose survivor plants, plants that will ease your burden on your water table and look great without steady rainfall. When choosing plant material, be sure to be aware of the soil requirements and water needs of that particular plant, as it is listed on tags, along with other vital planting information. You should look for descriptions of plants that include such words as: sandy, well drained, or drought tolerant. Remember, that the purpose of xeriscape is to conserve water and reduce the amount of maintenance required for caring for your landscape.

Good plant choices would be succulents, ornamental grasses, wildflowers, native plants, and other plants normally used in rock gardens.

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