What Is Xeriscape Landscaping?

Overview

Xeriscape landscaping is popular even in areas that traditionally have plentiful water. Xeriscape landscaping is based on water-wise gardening techniques and native plantings. A water-wise landscape can reduce wasteful water use by as much as 70 percent, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Sciences. There are several techniques to consider before xeriscaping your home garden.

Definition

Colorado State University Garden Series describes xeriscape landscaping as "landscaping with water conservation as a major objective." The concept of xeriscape began in Colorado in response to a severe drought in 1977. As water shortages have spread to other areas, xeriscape landscaping has become the official policy of many city and state governments.

Characteristics

Planning is the first and most important step in xeriscaping your home garden. Water conservation is more successful when you know the conditions of your property. Slopes with a south or west exposure require more frequent water than the same plant on a north or east exposure. Terracing hills reduces runoff water. Creating hydrozones of plants with similar water needs reduces overall irrigation needs.

Features

Reducing lawn turf areas is one of the main principles of xeriscape landscaping. The University of Delaware's Extension Service estimates that the United States has over 62,000 square miles of lawn. "Most lawns are simply too big to be useful, with high maintenance costs, minimal wildlife value, low aesthetic interest, and negative environmental impact."

Soil

Good soil preparation is the foundation of xeriscape landscaping. Healthy soil requires less water and fewer additives. Compost is organic matter, which gives soil good structure. It also retains water. Organic matter in soil is especially important in hydrozone growing spots that have high water needs.

Native Plants

Xeriscape landscaping relies on the use of native plants. Plants native to your area are well-acclimated to the water conditions of your landscape. Native plants do not need soil modifications, and they are less susceptible to disease and pest problems. Wildflowers native to the local area reseed and quickly naturalize, creating more plants for less cost. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, maintains a database of wildflowers indigenous to every area of the country.

Keywords: xeriscape landscaping, water-wise gardening, drought tolerant gardening

About this Author

Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene; "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine:Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene," and "The Mary Magdalene Within."