In many parts of the world, current climate conditions make it more and more difficult to support a traditional landscaping plan involving huge, thirsty lawns. Many homeowners have discovered that it’s much easier (and more affordable!) to adjust their gardening and landscaping efforts to minimize water usage rather than fight a losing battle to keep grass alive.
* Low-Moisture Ground Cover
“Xeriscaping” is the common term for landscaping choices made to minimize water usage. This type of landscaping doesn’t necessarily involve the elimination of greenery and plant life, either. Depending on the particular region a homeowner is in, there are many alternatives to non-native grass that can provide attractive and effective ground cover. With the right choices, a homeowner can easily maintain a verdant patch of greenery using just a small fraction of the water needed by a traditional lawn. Low-moisture alternatives for ground cover include vines, herbs, and native grasses.
* Avoiding Thirsty Plants
As noted above, a xeriscape can include plenty of vibrant greenery. Xeriscaping is distinct from “natural” gardening (which concentrates exclusively on native plants) and “zero-scaping.” (which involves minimal planting) The chief concern with each plant choice in xeriscaping is water usage. Plants should be selected with an eye not towards their average water requirements, but their water requirements in the particular region being landscaped. In many cases, plants which may be difficult to cultivate in other areas will thrive when placed in a climate particularly suited to their needs.
* Rocks and Gravel
Although xeriscaping and zero-scaping are different approaches to gardening, the homeowner who wants to minimize water use shouldn’t neglect the possibilities of using non-living landscaping elements. Reducing the total square footage devoted to planting can dramatically reduce water consumption, even when plants are selected for minimal thirstiness. Using gravel beds and attractive rock formations can add visual interest and aesthetic appeal to a garden while also cutting down on its water needs.
Although the goal of xeriscaping is to reduce water usage, this does not necessarily imply a maintenance-free garden. Hardy xeriscape-appropriate plants still need care and upkeep. While it takes less water to keep a xeriscape healthy, it often requires stricter adherence to a regular watering schedule. Further, homeowners have to keep in mind that xeriscaped gardens and lawns will often have comparatively unusual requirements for soil nutrition. Keeping a xeriscape healthy and happy may require a homeowner to maintain an exotic soil pH, fertilize with uncommon materials, or perform maintenance tasks (e.g. aeration) more frequently than with a conventional landscaping arrangement. For many homeowners, this minor bother is well worth the trouble when it pays off in the form of a distinctive, eco-friendly garden that catches the eye and keeps irrigation costs down.
Although xeriscaping isn’t for everybody, homeowners who choose to investigate it typically find it highly rewarding. It involves a more rational, reasonable approach to cultivating the residential environment. Employing xeriscaping principles is often the first step on the road to a home that’s more ecologically conscious and sustainable.