Xeriscaping is a type of landscape design that seeks to conserve water. By planting native and drought resistant species, reducing areas of lawn, and using mulch and drip irrigation, xeriscape designs use less water and require less care than manicured lawns and thirsty flowerbeds. But xeriscape doesn't require you to give up flowers and plant cactus. Many species of plants work in a xeriscape landscape.
Sun-loving sunflowers (helianthus sp) do well in a xeriscape, provided you choose smaller native varieties, and not the giant varieties grown for seed. Cosmos (Cosmos sp), colorful blanket flower (Gallarida puchella), globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) and gazania (Gazania sp) are other annual flowers that do well during the hot, often dry summers of zone 5.
Flowering perennials such as yarrow (Achillea sp), bell flower (Campanula sp), pinks (Dianthus sp) and iris (Iris sp.) will also thrive in a xeriscape.
Observe the wildflowers that grow in your area and plant domestic varieties of these for a successful xeriscape flower garden.
A number of water-wise shrubs offer the bonus of colorful fall foliage or fruit. The leaves of burning bush (Euonymus alatus) turn scarlet in the fall, while fosythia (Forsythia sp) turns gold. Juniper (Juniperus sp) has feathery silver gray foliage, with blue-green berries on the female plants. Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) produces bright red berries that are a favorite of birds.
Flowering shrubs such as rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) and cinquefoil (Potentilla fruiticosa) are covered in blooms in the summer and fall, making them attractive for hedges of foundation plantings.
Many native trees thrive in a xeriscape once established, though you'll need to supply extra water during the first year of planting. Fir (Abies sp), juniper (Juniperus sp) and various pines (Pinus sp) are drought tolerant evergreens native to zone 5. Gingko (Gingko biloba) is an attractive, broad-leafed deciduous tree that will do well in zone 5, along with staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) and several species of oak, including red oak (Quercus ruba), bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and English oak (Quercus robur).
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