Now you are probably wondering what you can do to help mitigate the issues correlated with urbanization. Well here’s my answer – xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that promotes water efficiency by using plants that are native and adaptable to semi-arid or arid climates. As water becomes a more scarce and limiting resource, this landscape design technique is a new alternative for all landscaping projects, residential or commercial. Denver Water coined the word in 1981 by combining “landscape” and the Greek word “xeros,” which means dry. The first organization to define this type of landscaping, Xeriscape Colorado Inc., became a partner of Denver Water, which merged with another non-profit, Metro Water Conservation, to form Colorado WaterWise. This is known as the current leader in water conservation in Colorado.

The benefits associated with xeriscaping are spectacular as water becomes scarcer and the maintenance of traditional landscaping is usually high. Xeriscaping saves water, uses less maintenance, doesn’t use fertilizer or pesticides, improves property value, is pollution free, and provides wildlife habitat. The xeriscaping concept is based on 7 principles, which are outlined below.

  1. Plan and Design: Creating a plan provides direction and will ensure that water-saving techniques are implemented in the landscape.
    1. First, look at you existing landscape and create a base plan. This diagram, drawn to scale, should show major elements of your landscape, including housing, driveway, sidewalk, deck or patio, and existing trees.
    2. Observe the natural drainage patterns and assess whether you will need to build terraces to help reduce soil loss and erosion due to rain.
    3. Your existing design should include location of spigots, downspouts, fences, existing lawn, garden, shrubs, trees, and the slopes of your landscape.
    4. Next, think about how you want to use your new xerisacape design a plan and outline what types of plants should go where.
  2. Soil Improvement: Soil in water-conserving landscapes should drain quickly and store water at the same time.
    1. You can achieve this by adding organic material, like compost, in your soil
  3. Create Limited Turf Area: Reduce the size of turf areas as much as possible.
    1. It is best to limit turf as much as possible, but you may retain some for open space and visual appeal.
    2. This helps reduce water use.
  4. Use Appropriate Plants: Select plants that are native to your region.
    1. Use drought-resistant plants that need a minimal amount of water.
    2. Tress can be used to help reduce evaporation, block wind, and shade the soil.
  5. Mulch: Cover the surface soil surrounding plants with mulch.
    1. Mulch keeps the plants cool, prevents soil from crusting, minimizes evaporation, and reduces weed growth.
    2. Mulches include bark chips, wood grindings, leaves, pine needles, or gravel.
    3. Mulch coverage should be inches thick and must be re-applied form time to time.
  6. Irrigate: Avoid over watering.
    1. If you still need to irrigate your landscape, the most efficient irrigation system is drip irrigation or soaker hoses.
    2. These deliver water directly to the plant at a slow rate reducing moisture loss, erosion, and pooling.
  7. Maintain your landscape: Low maintenance is one of the benefits of xeriscape.
    1. Keeping weeds from growing may require a little attention.
    2. Turf areas shouldn’t be kept short – taller grass helps shades the roots and retains moisture.

Now you have the knowledge to start your own xeriscape when you please. Living in Colorado makes it hard to sustain lush gardens, so xeriscape is an alternative that is equally beautiful and more sustainable!

Here are some examples of beautifual and sustainable xeriscape gardens!