What is Xeriscape?
by Elaine West, Tucson Botanical Gardens Docent
XERISCAPE is a term coined by combining the Greek root ‘XERI’ meaning dry and ‘SCAPE’ meaning an extensive view or scenery. The intent of Xeriscape is to conserve water by using native and arid adapted plants to create beautiful landscapes that are inviting to people and creatures.
Xeriscape offers seven guidelines to achieve beautiful water conserving landscapes by
Seven Guidelines of Xeriscape
1. Plan and design
Plan realistically for your lifestyle/ Create different water use zones based on the amount of time you spend in each area. Spend your water budget where it offers the most comfort and beauty. Then phase in the design by planting trees first to create comfortable outdoor areas and shade the house.
2. Choose appropriate plants
Choose plants based on their characteristics and mature size. Match the conditions you actually have not the conditions you wish you had. Native plants thrive in some of the toughest conditions, so choose natives for south and west facing areas. Moisture loving plants grown on east or north facing areas require less water.
3. Dig good holes
Digging holes in desert soil is hard work. Make sure the hole is the proper size for the plant by digging 2 to 3 times the width of the root or pot and the same depth. Then crack the soil surface with a pick 5 times the size of the planting hole to encourage water penetration and allow root growth. Check the planting hole for drainage before placing the plant. Remember native plants require little or no soil amendment.
4. Use turf and water features as cooling sources
If you must have a lawn, plant it near a frequently used door to allow the moisture of the grass to moderate the air temperature entering the house. The same is true for fountains, ponds and pools. Remember to keep water intensive features small, well maintained and only in heavily used areas to make them effective and efficient.
5. Irrigate Efficiently
Drip irrigation systems offer a convenient way to deliver water to plants, but they are NOTautomatic systems. Drip irrigation requires changing watering times and durations with the seasons, checking for leaks or breaks in the lines and cleaning or changing clogged emitters. A truly efficient irrigation system
6. Use Mulches
Covering the surface around plants allows the moisture to sink into the soil before evaporating in the intense sun. Mulch also works to reduce weeds and decrease soil temperature around plants. Mulches need to be maintained at a depth of three to inches to be effective.
7. Practice proper maintenance
Prune plants for health not for size. Pruned plants require more water to compensate for the moisture needed to heal the wound lost at the cut. Irrigation systems frequently require more maintenance than wisely chosen plants. Gardens grow and change over time, plants do not live forever, replace plants as necessary with environmentally suitable plants for their location.
For more information on using the Xeriscape Guidelines in your landscape join the Xeriscape Class on the second Saturday of every month.Email this page to a friend