Have more fun and work less this coming New Year!
By JCMGs Sharon Bates & Karen Walker, members of the Wildbunch Writers
Xeriscaping is derived from the Greek word xeros, meaning dry. It’s possible to have a beautiful, interesting yard with little water use and low maintenance. I used to think that meant a rock garden, which has its own beauty, but I love and want color and flowers. This can be achieved by using native plants and plants that have been adapted for our area. A green, lush lawn can still be part of your yard, just don’t make it the focal point and choose your grasses wisely.
I moved back to Texas from the desert mainly because I missed the “green”. We had a lot of zero-scaping, which most people associate with xeriscaping but they are totally different. The desert uses lots of rock and cactus (mesquite trees are highly prized) but we can use a wide variety of water-efficient native plants to have an oasis in our yards. Not to mention how much less yard work you will need to do.
Finding what grows well in our areas is the key to an effective xeriscape landscape. Choose plants that are native to our area. There are several native plant societies, water districts, nurseries and university extension departments that keep such lists. I have listed a few below. Many cities and universities also have xeriscape demonstration gardens.
To be successful it’s also necessary to group together the plants with similar watering needs. I do have some water guzzlers I love, but I keep them close to my kitchen door and I save water that would normally go down the drain (from washing veggies or rinsing pots & pans, etc.) and give it to them.
As more and more people move to Texas our water supply will become more limited. I have read that up to 25 percent of our water supply is used for landscaping and gardening because they are the “traditional” high water landscape or the irrigation is inefficient. Most lawns are over watered and thirsty grasses are planted.
You can set up an efficient irrigation system; improve your soil and mulch, mulch, mulch. Our lack of rainfall this year should be a good motivator to check out what you can do in your yard. In 2005 our rainfall through November was 22.87 inches – over 13 inches below normal. According to the Texas Agriculture Extension Office there are seven basic principles which lead to saving water:
· Planning and design
· Soil analysis
· Practical turf areas
· Appropriate plant selection
· Efficient irrigation
· Use of mulches
· Appropriate maintenance
If you incorporate these principles, you can help preserve our most precious natural resource-water.