What is Xeriscaping

1. Careful Planning

For Xeriscaping, it is important to develop a good plan before breaking ground to save time, money, andto prevent unnecessary damage to the environment. The plan may result in a well-crafted design but begins with careful observation of the site. Aside from a host of natural factors to consider, deciding how the site will be used by the people who inhabit it is equally important.

2. Soil Amendments

Testing the soil before installing the new landscape is recommended to determine which macro and micro plant nutrients it might be lacking. Organic amendments are readily available to overcome any deficiencies. The most widely used amendment for every type of soil is compost which helps conserve moisture, promote drainage and encourage micro-fauna in the soil.

3. Reduced Lawn

Xeriscaping can save water by reducing the size of the lawn. The design of the lawn may also influence its future maintenance. The reduced lawn opens up exciting design possibilities when deciding what to put in its place. Garden beds generally take less water than sod while pathways take none.

4. Appropriate Plants

Before purchasing any plants, consult someone with local plant experience or acquire a local plant guide, such as the Grow Green booklet available in Austin. If the location is hot and dry consider low-water perennials, cacti and succulents. Those same types of plants will not like a location that is shady and moist. While native and adapted plants are preferred, there is always room where the conditions are right to introduce just about any plant.

5. Thorough Mulching

A thick layer of mulch will help to conserve water by keeping the soil moist, to reduce erosion, and to suppress weeds. While anything can serve as mulch, the absolute best is shredded hardwood made from recycled tree branches and other cuttings. The use of gravel may be appropriate in some places but not everywhere. Organic mulch is initially applied thickly then replenished annually with a thin layer on top.

6. Efficient Irrigation

Irrigating the landscape takes many forms, from solely relying upon rainfall, to a fully automated irrigation system. Regardless of the method, irrigation should be monitored carefully to ensure the least amount of water is wasted. Pop-ups and rotors should be reserved for irrigating lawns only while drip irrigation is the best means of delivering water to a mixed bed with plants of different heights. Water restrictions will likely be in effect for some time, therefore, it is beneficial to plant only those things that can survive on once per week watering.

7. Routine Maintenance

While there is no such thing as a maintenance-free landscape, by adopting the seven principles of xeriscaping, maintenance may be dramatically reduced. Regardless, all landscapes do better with regular maintenance. Lawns should be cut regularly to a moderately-tall height during the growing season. Perennials should be cut back after blooming and after the first hard frost of the season. Regular applications of fertilizer will ensure that nutrients are in place when the plants need them the most. Diagnosing pest problems early will save time and money later.

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