Xeriscaping to Promote Water Conservation
Living in Southern California has made me well-aware of how precious fresh water is and how there is a great need to conserve it. However, standing on my front porch viewing green patch after green patch of well-watered lawns you'd think California wasn't experiencing a water shortage. To confirm we truly are going into our fourth year of drought, our local water and power company has put a moratorium on limiting the watering of lawns to two days a week. Though there are monetary incentives to switching over to a semi-arid, xeric landscape, only a few homes in my neighborhood have drastically changed out their lawn to a more drought-tolerant and arid-friendly garden.
Why are so few people willing to alter their landscaping? Most likely because tearing out a pre-existing lawn is labor intensive, and some people really love their green, water-hungry lawn despite the water shortage. Yet, there are so many more benefits to what is known as Xeriscaping, or "dry" gardening. Xeric landscaping means planting native flowers and plants to your region that require very little water. These are the plants you see on the hillsides, prairies, or open spaces where no one has tended to them, but they flourish anyway.
Before planting a Xeric garden, however, having a plan is essential so that your garden doesn't end up looking like an overgrown, scruffy lot. A couple of great online resources include Sunset.com and Better Homes and Gardens. Both of these online sites have gardening plans that help ease the stress of trying to figure out where to plant what. Better Homes and Gardens even has a custom Plan-a-Garden online application that lets you map out your yard based on its shape and size.
Benefits of Xeriscaping
An obvious benefit of a Xeric landscape is reducing the amount of water used on your landscape. Saving water means lowering your water bill, a two for one deal. A truly xeric garden needs very little water. A drip system that loses little water due to evaporation comes in handy for this kind of garden, since the point is to conserve water. If you are just getting started, new plants need a little more deep watering to help them become established. Once plants have been established, weekly watering during summer months or dry periods can help them flourish.
Another benefit of Xeric gardening is a reduction in overall maintenance. Initially changing out any landscape can be labor-intensive and expensive. Once a Xeric landscape is established, less energy is spent tending to those plants. With Xeric gardening, many native plants need little fertilizing or pruning to help them bloom. Native plants often repopulate themselves on their own so replanting becomes a moot issue. Instead of spending an entire Sunday mowing, watering, weeding, and pruning, you could instead be enjoying your garden and relaxing.
Many communities in the southwest also promote water-saving landscapes through incentive programs. Find
To find native plants in California, visit Be Water Wise's Great California Native Plants.