In a nutshell, xeriscaping is landscaping using plants that do not require watering above the normal rainfall. Typically advocated in areas prone to drought, such as Nevada, or where the pace of development is outstripping water reserves, such as Los Angeles, xeriscaping provides a great way to have a good looking garden without overtaxing the water supply.
Xeriscaping Saves Time and Water
Xeriscaping and desert gardens both require designing gardens that minimize rainwater runoff and evaporation. An interesting selection of flowers, grasses, cacti, shrubs, vegetables and trees can do very well in low water environments, which provides numerous exciting design opportunities for a desert garden. Plants commonly used in both types of gardens include cacti, agave, lavender, juniper, thymes and various kinds of sedums. Semi-tropical plants survive in protected desert areas as well.
Fewer than 10 inches of rainfall happens annually in most desert areas, making growing green plants a serious challenge. In addition, many dry areas also suffer from hard clay type soils such as adobe that make getting water down to deep plant roots especially difficult.
Enjoy a Longer Growing Season
On the other hand, desert gardens have distinct advantages as well. For one thing, they enjoy longer growing seasons than gardens in colder climes, sometimes allowing avid gardeners to practice their horticultural skills every month of the year. By definition, water bills are lower with desert and xeriscape gardens, making more water available for other uses and needs.
Because of reduced water availability, desert gardens sprout fewer weeds that need to be pulled to keep a garden looking neat and orderly; because they rarely include much grass; lawn-mowing chores are seriously reduced or eliminated altogether.
Xeriscapes Design Is Clean and Minimalist
Also, for those who live in a community that periodically restricts water usage; water efficient plants will look better and live longer than their water-greedy peers.
To design a workable and attractive desert or xeriscape garden, try the following:
- Design beds to maximize water retention and minimize water runoff; if gardening in a hilly or sloped area, plant the most water-needy plants at the bottom of the slope and create a tiled or paved channel so that more rainwater will reach them
- Plant flowering plants that bloom at different times to keep as much color as possible in your garden; don’t expect that perennials will bloom continuously
- Remember there is beauty in all living things; learn to love the minimalist look of fewer plants and little or no grassy lawn areas.
Xeriscape gardening not only offers great opportunities for water conservation; this type of outdoor garden offers spectacular curb appeal and offer visual beauty for onlookers and admirers. Most people used to think that xeriscaping meant dull, boring horticulture. Not true! Use garden accessories to add points of interest, plant in intriguing clusters and don’t be afraid to stagger heights so that a desert garden looks different from every angle of the yard.