Vivid Xeriscapes: A beautiful water-wise, low-maintenance landscape solution

Water-wise, Low-maintenance Xeriscapes

Xeriscaping offers a wonderful solution for beautiful and colorful landscapes. Like traditional landscapes, a xeriscape may be designed to minimize maintenance, conserve water and protect the environment. By selecting plants that are well-adapted, organic mulches that suppress weed growth and conserve water, along with drip-irrigation systems directed at the plant roots, xeriscapes can deliver visually stunning and fragrant landscapes.

Taken from the Greek word xeros, meaning dry, xeriscape embodies the principles of water conservation through creative landscaping. In the metroplex, as in many areas of the country, there is growing concern about water shortages. Water usage varies, but the American Water Works Association suggests as a general estimate that as much as 50 percent of water consumption can be attributed to landscape use. Proper planning can greatly reduce water usage.

“The Dallas Water Utilities host the annual Xeriscape Tour of Homes to showcase the most impressive water-wise gardens in Dallas each June,” says Yvonne Dupre, program coordinator for Dallas Water Utilities. “They also conduct free classes to train residents on xeriscaping.”

Seven Principles for Successful Xeriscapes

  1. Start with a plan. Consider soil type, drainage and water availability. Determine how the space will be used: entertaining, play, gardening or storage.
  2. Analyze and improve the soil if needed. Adding an organic matter, such as compost, will improve drainage, moisture penetration and retention.
  3. Determine the best turf. Since grass needs more water, consider if the area will benefit more from a ground cover, shrub, deck or patio addition.
  4. Select native or drought tolerant plants. If unsure, consult plant experts at local nurseries.
  5. Water efficiently. Water less frequently, but more deeply to develop healthier root systems. “When you use misting sprinklers or sprinklers that throw water high into the air, the water often evaporates before it hits the ground,” Dupre says. “Drip irrigation applies water slowly to the soil directly surrounding the plant roots.” The Rainbird Landscape Dripline System is one such system that offers the advantages of watering each plant, not the surrounding soil. This results in fewer weeds, greater water conservation and faster growth. Additionally, it reduces the runoff of excessive watering and the burden of unwanted and wasted pesticides in our lakes.
  6. Use organic mulches to conserve water and slow weed growth. Mulches reduce soil water loss and erosion. Common organic mulches include pine bark, composted leaves, shredded cedar, and landscape clippings.
  7. Maintain appropriately. A properly maintained yard is hardier and better equipped to withstand drought, freezing and pest problems.

Trees and shrubs should be pruned annually. Flowering plants need frequent pruning to stimulate blooming and keep a neat appearance. Remove weeds so they do not compete with plants for water. Raise the height of the lawn mower so grass blades are able to shade their roots. Fertilize in moderation; allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn as a natural fertilizer.

Plants, trees, shrubs, perennials and even natural rock offer homeowners unlimited design tools for creating functional and stunning outdoor-living spaces. Beautiful, eco-friendly and low-maintenance, xeriscapes offer the perfect solution for conservation-conscience homeowners.

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