Waterconservation benefits homeowners and environmentalists alike. Fromhigh-efficiency washing machines to taking shorter showers, small changes canmake a big difference in both utility bills and sustainability efforts. But wateruse doesn’t stop in the home; the average North American household uses 50% ofits water supply on lawn, landscape and garden maintenance. In fact, one of thebiggest opportunities for water conservation exists in homeowners’ backyards.
What is xeriscaping?
Xeriscaping is amethod of creative landscaping that focuses on strategic use of flora, soil andplanting patterns to cultivate gardens that require minimum hydration. Thesetechniques have been able to reduce water use in lawn and landscaping by asmuch as 75%. Developed in drought-afflicted Colorado, xeriscaping uses sevenbasic planting principles to minimize water use. Today, a wide variety ofdrought-resistant plantings and countless aesthetic options encourage gardenersin all geographies to get creative and personalize the trend for themselves.
How does it work?
In general,xeriscaping focuses on two major components of the landscaping process: carefulplanning, followed by creation and maintenance of the xeriscape.
Planning is themost important step to reduce water use and maximize the benefits of naturalprecipitation. Xeriscape gardeners assess natural grades and contours in theland, predicting areas most susceptible to rainfall and planting accordingly.Rain harvesting methods, such as rain barrels and Rain Chain systems, also aidin the capture and direction of nature’s water supply toward thirsty plants. Toprevent water evaporation, trees or shrubs are used to shade the property, andexposed turf is kept to a minimum. (For turf lawns, native grasses like buffaloand bluegrass are drought-resistant alternatives to typical lawn grasses.)
Followingdetailed plans, soil optimization is key for long-term success. The addition ofnutrient-rich compost aerates and primes the land to both drain and retainwater effectively.
Layering mulch is another important step as it cools plantroots, slows evaporation and reduces
weed growth. Finally, ongoing irrigationis achieved through soaker hoses or drip-irrigation
systems, methods thattarget plant roots rather than spraying drops into the air.
What are the benefits?
In addition tolowering household water use, the benefits of xeriscaping include less timespent on property maintenance, healthier soil, and less need for fertilizer. Totry your hand at xeriscaping, explore the seven principles in detail. Adopt a drought-resistantiris, plant more trees, or choose inventive ways to recycle rainwater. Yourgarden - and your planet! - will thank you.