Xeriscaping – pronounced “zeer-i-skay-ping”, refers to dry landscaping with special emphasis on the conservation of water, using plants that are appropriate to the local climate and keeping it organic. Originally developed for drought-afflicted areas, the principles of xeriscape today have an ever broadening appeal. Xeriscaping is becoming increasingly popular and will become very important in the implementation and redesign of residential and commercial projects for the future.
Some of the very basic principles of Xeriscaping are discussed below.
Appropriate Plants and Planting
For best results, select plants that are native to your region
- Always use drought-resistant plants. In general these plants have leaves which are small, thick, glossy, silver-grey or fuzzy – all characteristics which help them save water.
- Select plants for their ultimate size. This will reduce pruning maintenance.
- For hot, dry areas choose plants which need only a minimum of water. Also try not to mix plants of high and low-watering needs in the same area.
- Trees help to reduce evaporation by blocking wind and shading the soil.
Low maintenance is one of the benefits of a xeriscaped landscape.
- Keeping the weeds from growing up through the mulch may require some attention. Thickening the layer of mulch will help. Grass areas should not be cut too short – taller grass is natural mulch which shades the roots and helps retains moisture. Avoid over fertilizing.
- Water conservation in xeriscaping is the ultimate goal, so avoid over watering. Even xeriscaped gardens need irrigation, especially in their early stages, but rarely as much as you think. Soaker hoses and drip-irrigation systems offer the easiest and most efficient watering for xeriscapes because they deliver water directly to the base of the plant
The art of a gravel garden – A popular garden style for a xeriscape garden
Made popular by the exquisite Japanese Zen gardens, gardening with gravel and using indigenous grasses, small plants and succulents is proving to be a prudent choice not only to drought proof your garden but for aesthetic appeal. Equally important, it is a practical way of suppressing weeds, maintaining moisture, and showing off your plants. If you garden in a hot, dry climate or on the coast where winds dry out soils, gravel “mulch” is ideal for maintaining moisture and can easily be incorporated into your existing garden.
Crushed stones, small to medium sized pebbles and large bark chips are all suitable mediums. Together with stepping stones, round, rectangular or square, charcoal, coloured or sandy beach, you can create a wonderful serene and peaceful effect. The real trick is to make sure your gravel garden is in harmony with your garden environment. You can achieve this by including some larger rocks, ethnic earthenware pots, animal statues or old tree stumps. If low maintenance is your aim and you don’t want to be invaded by weeds, it is important to place a layer of weed-suppressing material under the gravel.