What Is Xeriscaping? The Landscaping Solution That’ll Save You Money
With intense heat waves and over 75% of the American West hit by severe drought this summer, you might be wondering how you can do your part to conserve water – to help the environment and lower your electricity bills.
But how are you supposed to reduce your water consumption and preserve the lush landscape that makes the neighbors jealous?
The answer: Xeriscaping, a not new but increasingly popular landscaping trend that relies on drought tolerant plants and smart horticultural practices to save water. When done right, xeriscaping can add curb appeal and reduce your costs.
Whether you are a brand new homeowner looking to create a drought tolerant garden or a seasoned gardener who adapts to the ever changing climate, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about xeriscaping.
What is xerization?
Xeriscaping originated in Colorado in the 1980s and was part of a joint effort by the Denver Department of Water and various nonprofits to educate the public about water-conscious landscaping. Since then, it has become a growing trend among gardeners and landscapers across the American West.
“Here in Utah, about 1 in 15 projects we do is a Xeriscape,” says Perry Bratt, President of Stratton & Bratt landscaping company. “Although it has evolved a bit over the years, xeriscaping is essentially about using as little water as possible.”
However, xeriscaping isn’t all about watering your garden less frequently. It’s also about being smart about what you are planting and how you are landscaping – both of which have a huge impact on how much water you really need.
“The main goal of xeriscaping is to increase the efficiency of landscaping,” says You lean of outdoor events. “When you increase the efficiency of landscaping, the need for water decreases – and your savings can grow rapidly.”
So what does increasing the efficiency of landscaping mean? Let’s dive into some xeriscaping basics to find out.
How to start xeriscaping
Here are some basic xeriscaping concepts that will help reduce your garden’s water needs.
Improve your soil: One of the easiest ways to start xeriscaping is to improve the moisture retention capacity of your garden soil.
“If you plan to minimize the amount of water your plants get, they need all the help they can get,” says Meager. “That is why soil improvement and the use of compost are one of the core principles of xeriscaping.”
By adding nutrient-rich compost with moisture-retaining properties, you will help your plants stay healthier and happier between waterings. Also, consider adding mulch or peat moss to your topsoil for even more moisture retention.
Dig your lawn: Another relatively easy way to xeriscope your garden is to dump your lawn and any other non-native plants that need tons of valuable water.
“There are no two options: your lawn is drinking gallons of water and it is still thirsty,” says Meager. “As the world develops, dense, green, lush lawns can at some point become an archaic – and extravagant – luxury item. You could probably save water and money by replacing your expensive lawn with less needy mulch, stones, silt, soil, or native, drought-resistant plants. “
Prioritize native plants: Not ready to go without a lawn? Then start small by focusing your gardening on plants that don’t require a lot of water – like those that grow naturally in your area.
“Native plants have evolved to survive in the region without human intervention, so they can continue to thrive with natural rainfall and weather patterns,” says Bratt. “Not only do local plants generally require less water, they also typically require less maintenance and fertilizer, live longer, and are naturally great for native birds and pollinators.”
Water efficiently: In addition to being aware of how and what to plant in your garden, you should also come up with a revised strategic water use plan.
“Imagine an irrigation system that delivers water to your plant’s root system as efficiently as possible,” says Meager. “That’s the beauty of soaking hoses and drip irrigation.”
If you choose to have an irrigation installation, just make sure things are set up the right way.
“The excessive water loss on properties is due to overwatering,” says Bratt. “Drip systems usually save water unless, as is often the case, the drip system is allowed to run longer than it should.”
The bottom line
Xeriscaping is not difficult, but “remember that xeriscaping is not an overnight process,” says Meager. “It takes time, commitment and, above all, planning”,
However, if you can achieve a water-efficient garden with easy-care plants and inexpensive landscaping, you will save money in the long term – and protect the environment.