What is a xeriscape?
Xeriscaping is the art of taking plants that need little water and using them in your landscape. That is the best worded definition I have found. The dictionary says, “environmental design of residential and park land using various methods for minimizing the need for water use.”
Don’t you hate hauling that hose all over the garden when it gets dry? That is one of the most onerous tasks of summer in my opinion. Sometimes in the driest seasons it can seem futile as well.
If there are water restrictions in your neighborhood or city, then the garden is doomed to wither away unless the heavens open up and rain. Xeriscaping makes the best situation by reducing the need for artificial watering in the first place. When the community puts water restrictions on your neighborhood, wouldn’t you rather have no worries about your garden plants?
Native plants to your area are always a good choice. If you match the native plant with it’s preferred growing situation (sun or shade, etc), it will likely thrive without needing extra help from the gardener.
Consider the plants preferred growing conditions: what type of sun exposure or moisture requirements does the plant have? Then match up with the conditions of your property that will most likely provide them.
What xeriscaping gives you and your garden:
Cost and energy savings when years of pumping extra water are considered.
Environmentally friendly, since native plants and drought tolerant plants usually need less fertilizers and watering, and thriving in stressful situation means less vulnerability to insects and disease (which then demand solutions).
Lower maintenance, as in attending to the hose, etc.
Greater plant success when the plants like the conditions they are growing in and manage the challenges by their own nature. Nature does it best- and we gardeners really are only assistants.
Less work, which almost goes without saying, but we will say it anyway. Over time this might be one the most appreciated benefits of choosing to garden with xeriscape methods.
Implementing Xeriscape Principles
Group your plantings according to how much watering they will need in your climate zone; this will differ widely throughout the country, but Ohio is a temperate climate of the ‘humid continental‘ type. There are periods of drought in the summer which require water conservation, and that is when xeriscape landscaping proves its worth.
Place plants that need the most water near the water source, and choose those on the outer edges of the property from a list of more drought tolerant plants.
Choose watering methods that make the most of your efforts; soaker hoses over sprinklers, for instance.
Groundcovers and landscaping plants rather than lawns will often create less need for water in the driest months.
Incorporate organic material into your soils for better water retention.
Read more about mulch.
More information on mulching and other water saving practices in the Dry Weather page.