Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Principles of Xeriscaping

Swallowtail in my garden
I have to admit that when I first moved to the desert and heard the word "Xeriscape", I didn't want anything to do with it.  To me, at the time, I thought it meant zero plants and more rock.  The fact of the matter is that xeriscaping can be lush and beautiful.  With the way the world is changing, it is only a matter of time before resources begin to run out.  Currently most people pay for the delivery of water but not for the quantity of water.  Some people believe that this "extra charge" is coming sooner than later.  In fact, it does happen in some countries right now.  Living on the desert island of Sal in Cape Verde, we had a very limited amount of water and it was delivered once a week. I learned quickly to be ready to fill our tank up when the trucks came. They charged for delivery and the amount used.  As the world's population increases so will the use of her natural resources.  Many of us reading this will not see the affects of this, but unfortuneatly our grandchildren will and that is a sad thought.  So to be a forward thinker, xeriscaping is not zeroscaping as it's about planting vegetation that will grow within the amount of your rainfall each year.  Xeriscaping is not just for the desert regions but for all's wise planting for your water bill.....and low maintenance in your garden. In the next two segments of this blog, I'll cover the principles of xeriscaping and the 3 basic regions of gardens using the xeriscape model around your home.  It's sound advice financially and naturally as wildlife, native to our areas, will respond to local plants that will thrive in our own yards.  

Ground Morning Glory

The Zones.  When using the xeriscape method, you must think of setting up your zones.  There is the oasis zone, transition zone, and native zone.  The oasis zone is near your home and placed around your seating areas, patio, etc.  This zone tends to get more water and attention.  Think of this area as your "oasis" when you sit down with guests or for that cup of coffee.  Larger pots are placed around this area as it is easier to water them being closer to the house.  The transition zone consists of native trees that you'd like to shade your home.  If you have gray water, this is a good place to irrigate.  Trees should be placed 15 feet from your home to provide shade and coolness from our desert sun.  It will also create a pleasing aesthetic look.  The plants will need occassional watering to keep them looking attractive.  Finally, the natural or native zone is the lowest and furthest away from the home.  These use the lowest water amounts and are generally native plants. Once established, these plants should need little to no water depending on our annual rainfall.  Remember to group plants with similar needs for water, sun, and maintenance to increase irrigation efficiency and reduce maintenance time.

Here are the 7 principles of xeriscaping......
1. Water-wise planning and design
2. Soil Amendment or not..
3. Plant Selection
4. Limited Practical Turf...if any...but we need to consider people who have kids
5. Efficient Irrigation
6. Mulch
7. Proper Maintenance

Until next time, happy gardening!!!


  1. You are very much correct, and we should all be wisely using our natural resources.

  2. It all just makes sense, doesn't it! Thanks for a great post and sharing your knowledge with us.


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