Xeriscaping (Low Water Use Landscaping) Your Yard
Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping using minimal amounts of water
that was created by the Denver Water Department in 1978. The word was
coined by combining the Greek word xeros ("dry") with landscape.
(The word "xeriscape" is a registered trademark of Denver
Water, the city of Denver's water department.)
Xeriscaping your yard can
save as much as 50% of your total water use!
There are seven basic principles
1) Water-wise planning and design
Also termed hydrozoning, this involves grouping plants with similar
watering requirements together. Plants that require more water (for
example, vegetables, fruits, and certain flowers) are located together.
These less water-efficient plants may also be sheltered from the wind
and/or sun by planting them in the shade (under trees, beside a house
etc.) to decrease the amount of water they need. High water using plants
may be placed nearer the home in an "oasis" area where they
are more fully enjoyed.
2) Drought tolerant plants
Where possible, plants that are native to the area or to similar climates
are used, as well as other plants that tolerate or avoid water stress
(succulents, xeriphytes, halophytes, summer or winter dormant bulbs,
very deeply rooted plants) as ornamentals.
3) Appropriate size turf areas
Lawns are kept small, to the size needed for actual use. Drought-tolerant
turf-grass species are used where turf is needed at all (e.g., children's
play areas, pet use areas, etc.). The remaining landscape can be filled
in with borders and islands of more water-efficient ornamental plants.
Harvest water where possible
Water harvesting should be included in the landscaping design. Channel
runoff water to planted areas or contain it for later use. Mounds or
berms at the edge of the property can help retain the water on the land.
Locate plants with high water needs where they can take advantage of
the extra water.
5) Efficient irrigation equipment and design
Water should be applied efficiently, by drip irrigation or soaker hoses,
where possible. Overhead irrigation (never ideal) can be applied in the
morning or evening, when it is less likely to be blown away by wind or
lost by evaporation. Drought-tolerant plants get no more water than they
need to look good, and of course water is prevented from splashing onto
concrete walkways or other areas where it is not needed.
6) Mulch & soil
A layer of mulch conserves water in the soil as it keeps the soil surface
cool and slows evaporation. Improve the soil structure with compost,
manure or peat moss when planting. Soil with improved structure retains
7) Proper maintenance practices
Proper maintenance practices reduce water use:
- In general, prune minimally.
Topiary pruning is to be avoided at all costs as it increases
water use and stresses plants.
- Fertilize only enough for plant health, and
ideally use a slow release fertilizer.
- Aerate and de-thatch your lawn
once a year to improve infiltration and reduce runoff.
- Remove weeds,
as they use valuable water.
- Maintain the irrigation system in good working
order, and change watering habits with the season.
- Lower water use
- More water available for other uses and other people
(such as showers, sinks, laundry etc.)
- Less time and work needed for
maintenance, making gardening more simple and stress-free
- Little or
no lawn mowing (saves energy)
- Takes full advantage of rainfall
- Xeriscape plants will tend to survive
and look attractive when water restrictions are implemented, while
more traditional plants may not
- Increases habitat for native bees, butterflies,
and other fauna
- Xeriscape beds require only periodic maintenance which
is done only two or three times per year instead of one or two
times per week, as with most lawns in the summer.
- Involves more start-up work to prepare beds for planting
than simply laying sod when installing new landscaping
BC Ornamental Garden
Mortgage and Housing Corporation
State University Cooperative Extension
for the Study of the Built Environment's Water-Conserving Landscapes
Xeriscaping. (2008, June 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
19:05, June 3, 2008, from wikipedia.org
Check out these sites to learn more about Xeriscaping:
a waste efficient landscape
to reduce your use of water