With rising demand and low availability, water is now considered an expensive and limited resource, hence it is our responsibility as homeowners and gardeners to be judicious in its use. It is often assumed that a great looking garden requires a large amount of water. But the concept of xeriscaping tends to disagree and promotes low water consumption in landscapes while also providing beauty and a sense of place.
It is a common misconception that xeriscapes are always rocky and barren. This is false as it is possible to achieve different landscape designs if the principles of xeriscaping are correctly applied.
Why use Xeriscapes?
- Saves Water – Xeriscapes can reduce landscape water use by 50 – 75%.
- Less Maintenance – Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal.
- No Fertilizers or Pesticides – Use of native plants often eliminates the need for chemical supplements.
- Improves Property Value – A Good Xeriscape raises property values, hence offsetting the cost of installation, while also drought-proofing the landscape.
- Pollution Free – Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers and other equipment is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas.
- Provides Wildlife Habitat – Native plants provide habitat for the for the local fauna.
Principles of Xeriscaping
Water Conservation – Establish zones based on sun and shade and group plants with similar watering needs together. Strategically place the larger planting to provide natural heating and cooling. Use the natural contours of the land to incorporate swales and terraces.
Soil Improvement – An ideal soil must drain quickly while also storing water at the same time, this can be done by increasing the amount of organic matter in your soil by adding compost. But in the case of succulents and cacti, native soil is sufficient.
Limited Turf Areas – The size of the turf area must be reduced as much as possible. If one wishes to retain some turf area for open space, functionality and visual appeal a water-saving species adapted to your area can be used.
Native Plants – The use of drought-resistant plants with small, thick, glossy, silver-grey or fuzzy leaves. Use plants which need only a minimum of water for the hot, dry areas with south and west exposure; use plants that like moisture along the north and east-facing slopes and walls.
Mulch – Cover the soil with leaves, coarse compost, pine needles, wood chips, bark or gravel. This helps retain soil moisture and temperature, prevent erosion and block out competing weeds. Mulch need be a few inches thick and no part of the soil needs to be bare.
Irrigate – Avoid overwatering by using soaker hoses and drip-irrigation systems. As they deliver water at a slow rate which encourages root absorption and reduces pooling and erosion, they also reduce evaporation. In general, it’s best to water deeply and less frequently.
Maintain – Sometimes it may be necessary to remove the weeds from growing up through the mulch. A thicker layer of mulch can help reduce this.