Making gardens and landscaped areas look beautiful is no easy feat. Anyone in the gardening or landscaping business can attest to this. There’s the initial cost, maintenance and other difficulties out of your control, like pests or severe weather.
And then there's irrigation. Most plants need to be watered regularly, and that can be quite expensive. What's more, with global warming and other environmental problems, conserving water is a must and lawns full of grass can consume so much water...too much water.
Enter xeriscaping, landscaping or gardening that reduces the need for excessive water. While originally developed for areas in the world where water is hard to find and although it received a lot of negative public feedback, xeriscaping is slowly becoming more and more accepted by the public since it brings about benefits not only to the environment, but also to the pockets of the people who choose to try it out.
Xeriscaping does not only focus on water conservation only. In fact, there are seven principles associated with xeriscape landscapes. They are:
Planning and Designing. Split level plans, terracing, decks and other floor plans are all incorporated based on the topography of the area for landscaping. Well-planned and designed landscapes use rainfall retention fully and conserve natural energy. It also promotes the preservation and protection of trees and other plants that are already available in the area.
Soil Improvement. This includes the analysis of soil to help figure out which plants is best planted in the soil available. Organic matter used as fertilizer, such as lawn clippings left to decompose instead of bagged and thrown away, is also encouraged.
Appropriate Plant Selection. Contrary to the belief that only cacti and plants similar to them can be used in xeriscaping, plants of various types can be used. More than its aesthetic value, though, plants are chosen based on how well they will thrive in the xeriscaped area. This lessens the chances of replanting. The use of different plants, versus the use of grass alone in most areas, makes landscapes less cost to maintain as well.
Practical Turf Areas. The size of the lawns in a xeriscaped landscape is determined by its intended use. This helps determine the cost of the turf maintenance and see how it can be minimized. Some factors considered are the shape of turf areas (more rounded and circular for more efficient mowing), the slope of the land and the chance to use other materials other than grass.
Efficient Irrigation. The use of the appropriate irrigation equipment, whether it is a simple garden hose, sprinkler, drip lines or underground lines, paired with an effective irrigation system is vital in xeriscaping. According to research, two thirds less water is used in xeriscaped landscapes compared to regular lawn landscapes, making water more available for community and domestic uses.
Use of Mulches. Deep layers of mulch, may it be organic or not, is said to prevent runoff and erosion. It also helps with retaining moisture and slowing down weed growth.
Appropriate Maintenance. Xeriscaped landscapes require minimal time and effort to maintain, although weeding and mulching is still required occassionally. Appropriate maintenance includes having a composting area and using it constantly, mowing and fertilizing correctly and using more natural ways to control insects and pests.
The initial cost of xeriscaping may be higher than your usual landscaping and gardening. However, since its maintenance is much lower, it is relatively less expensive in the long run. For your next landscaping or gardening project, consider xeriscaping and see the difference yourself!