What is Xeriscaping?
Nature usually knows best. When it comes to landscaping our yards, we can all emulate nature by using Xeriscape techniques to create a lush, attractive, and water friendly yard. The word Xeriscape is a combination of the Greek word "xeros," which means dry, and landscape. Put together, Xeriscape means "dry landscape."
Instead, Xeriscape takes advantage of naturally occurring, water frugal plants that happen to be extremely attractive. Landscapes can use large amounts of our drinking water. As valuable as drinking water is in the Vegas Valley, it makes sense to use plants that minimize water use and water waste. Nevada's hot and dry climate causes extremely high evaporation rates. Combine that with the low average rainfall in the area and its obvious why Xeriscape is the way to go.
Xeriscape uses seven principles to achieve water efficiency.
1. Planning and Design
Why plan? You can make a mistake on paper and toss it away. When you make a mistake in the landscape, its effect is not so easily tossed. Successful Xeriscape begins with a good design that consider the function of the landscape and the mature size and water needs of the plant.
2. Appropriate Turf Areas
Locate grass only in areas where it provides functional benefits like the children's play area. Keep grass away from sidewalks, walls and fences for easier maintenance. Avoid planting turf in oddly shaped areas that can’t be watered efficiently.
3. Efficient Irrigation
Water all trees, shrubs and groundcovers with an efficient, low-volume drip system. Irrigate grass areas separately from other plantings. Change the irrigation schedule frequently with seasonal weather changes.
4. Low Water-Use Plants
Many low water use plants are available. Some provide shade and screening, others are perfect for borders and accents. Many flowering plants provide seasonal bursts of color.
5. Soil Improvements
Use organic matter to improve the soil when planting. This helps the soil hold water, permits better water absorption and feeds nutrients to your plants.
6. Surface Mulches
Use mulches to cover and cool the soil, decrease evaporation, reduce weed growth and slow erosion. Use organic mulches such as bark chips or wood shavings, or inorganic mulches like rock and gravel.
7. Appropriate Maintenance
Xeriscape requires less maintenance than traditional landscapes, but to preserve the appearance and water efficiency, some regular maintenance is required. Proper pruning, weeding, fertilization and pest control will keep your Xeriscape looking good. Irrigation system maintenance and adjustments help save water.
For more information on any of these principles, check out the classes and workshops listed in the Gardens at the Springs Preserve calendar of events or view the Water Smart Landscapes book