What Is Xeriscaping?
The word “xeric” comes from the Greek word “xeros” which means “dry” or “low water,” which is exactly the kind of environment that xeric landscaping (xeriscaping) was invented for. In short, the definition of xeriscaping is all about creating an eco-friendly yard by optimizing your landscape to reduce water waste.
If you’re like most people, then you’re probably thinking that xeriscaping means creating a dry tundra of a yard with just a few cactuses, yukka, and maybe a rock garden. But this couldn’t be further from reality. Drought-tolerant landscapes come in all shapes and sizes and can host a huge variety of plants.
Why Xeriscape Your Garden or Yard?
The advantages of xeriscaping are many, including practical perks like reduced maintenance and irrigation costs, and eco-friendly perks like conserving water — demonstrating a more conscientious attitude towards the environment.
Xeriscaping your yard also ensures that your landscape is prepared for droughts and can survive long periods of time without water.
How To Xeriscape Your Yard
Xeriscaping that is true to its definition abides by seven principles. Following these principles will help you create a yard that costs less to maintain, helps conserve water, and can survive drought.
Here is a brief introduction to the seven principles of xeriscaping:
1. Intentional planning and design
Like everything in life, the success of your landscape depends on how well you plan and design it. Divide your xeriscaped yard into zones — each zone housing plants that have the same watering requirements. By keeping your thirsty plants separated from more water-efficient plants, you reduce water waste. Sunlight is another thing to consider when creating your zones. You’ll want your toughest, most water-efficient plants to be located in zones that receive the most sunlight. Keep less tolerant plants in the shade.
2. Limitation of turf/grass/lawn
Even in xeriscape landscaping, turfgrasses serve a purpose. Use grass intentionally, putting it where it fulfills a utilitarian need. For example, an island of grass for children to play on, or against a hill to prevent erosion. Can you have a large, green lawn in your xeric yard? Scroll down for the answer.
3. Choosing water-efficient plants
This is where you can dispel the myth that being drought-tolerant equals a rock garden and cacti. There is a huge variety of fragrant, colorful, and gorgeous plants to choose from for your xeriscaped landscape. From multihued leaves to fruit-bearing, to long-blooming, there are water-efficient plants for every style of eco-friendly landscape. Three of our favorite plants include the tiger eyes sumac, bonfire cushion spurge, and diablo ninebark
4. Watering wisely
You’ll need to water more frequently when your plants are fresh and establishing their root systems, but as your garden ages, you can begin to water less frequently. Once you have a well-developed xeriscaped yard, the trick is to water deeply, not frequently. This means periodically soaking the different zones in your garden, getting the water to sink down about 8 inches before stopping. This style of watering mimics the heavy rainstorms which periodically occur in arid and desert regions.
5. Soil amendments
Good soil promotes healthy plant life and retains water — which means you can water your plants less. One way to do this is by mixing organic matter and fertilizer into your existing soil. This will enable sandy soil to retain water and will help promote plant growth in clay soil. Another method of preparing the soil is rototilling, which stimulates root growth by allowing for better infiltration of air and water.
6. Use of mulches
A big part of xeriscaping is strategically using mulch to reduce evaporation, erosion, and maintain proper soil temperature. You can choose between organic mulch, like bark, or rock mulch. Quality mulches will promote plant growth by keeping the soil moist, deflecting heat, and making it difficult for weeds to grow.
7. Appropriate landscape maintenance
Like all landscapes, xeriscapes require regular maintenance. This includes things like pest management, occasional weeding, and pruning. If you’re installing an automatic irrigation system, you’ll also need to schedule regular irrigation system maintenance to ensure that your drip systems are functioning properly and are adjusted to match the season. More tips on maintenance below.
Does Xeriscaping Mean You Need to Remove Your Lawn?
Because lawns require regular watering, a yard with a large lawn can never be truly xeric. But, you can create a water-wise landscape by reducing the size of your lawn.
One way to do this is to start seeing lawn as a flavor that you can sprinkle around your landscape, rather than the main course. So instead of maintaining large swaths of grass, create small “islands of lawn” throughout your landscape where you feel that they would complement your outdoor design and further the practical use of your yard.
Another way to optimize your lawn is by mixing water-efficient lawn plants (like clover) into your grass seed. Clover will help keep your lawn fertilized, green, and will help limit weed growth.
How To Maintain Your New Xeriscaped Yard
One of the biggest advantages of installing a xeriscaped landscape in your yard is that it will significantly reduce the amount of maintenance you need to do. Because you’ve optimized your yard with water-efficient plants and soil, this means less pruning, weeding, and watering!
But, “less maintenance” doesn’t mean no maintenance. Consistent upkeep is still necessary to ensure your plants continue flourishing and your irrigation system performs flawlessly. For example, mulch needs to be replenished with the season and drip irrigation needs to be adjusted for dryer and wetter conditions.
Xeriscaping In Las Cruces NM, Roswell NM, and Everett WA
To get the most out of your yard and to ensure that your landscape is xeriscaped properly, contact VistaScapes LLC today. Our crews of professional landscapers in Las Cruces, Roswell, and Everett have been designing, installing, and maintaining xeriscaped landscaping since 2007 and we would be honored to put our experience to work for you for creating the vista of your dreams.