In times of hardship, innovation thrives. The year 1981 saw the city of Denver, Colorado, continue to experience particularly severe drought. After facing four years of restricted water use, Denver Water created a landscaping concept that would change the way people landscape in arid climates forever.
Derived from the Greek word ‘xeros’, xeriscape translates literally to ‘dry landscape’. Xeriscape landscaping is an alternative to other, more water-intensive types of gardening. Differing from natural landscaping, Xeriscaping places the emphasis of plant selection on species which boost water conservation.
According to Denver Water, there are several principles to xeriscaping;
1. Planning and Design
The first aspect of xeriscaping is to create a plan and design of the area to be landscaped. Developing a plan helps to maximize water savings by choosing the correct plants for the desired result.
2. Soil Improvements
Typically soil is either predominantly clay or sand. Soil made from sand finds it difficult to hold water and therefore has more irrigation needs. Clay soil, on the other hand, holds onto water well and tends not to dry out as quickly as sandy soil does.
3. Efficient Irrigation
Xeriscaping encourages efficient watering of foliage, such as infrequent and deep watering to promote the growth of deep roots. By adjusting automatic sprinkling systems to accommodate the changing season, you can further reduce water consumption.
4. Plant Zones
By grouping greenery dependent on its sunlight and moisture needs, it is easy to minimize water waste. Planting strategically in areas that maximize water availability can further reduce water consumption and save money.
5. The Use Of Mulches
Mulch helps to minimize evaporation of moisture by preventing soil and plant roots from drying out. Both organic and inorganic mulches are equally effective; however, placement differs dependent on the direction the landscape is facing in relation to the sun.
6. Turf Alternatives
Xeriscaping makes use of low-water-use turfs such as buffalo grass and blue grama grass, amongst others.
Xeriscape gardens are typically low maintenance, and in turn require less time needed to upkeep, in comparison to more traditional landscaping.
Although the main benefit of xeriscaping is lowered water consumption, there are also financial benefits that homeowners can reap.
How Can Xeriscaping Save Me Money?
Reduce Energy Costs
Studies show that xeriscaping that utilizes well-planned shrub and tree placement can reduce the cooling requirements of a home by up to 45%. This could save thousands a year on the average homes energy bill.
Reduce Water Costs
Data from the EPA suggests that lawn irrigation in the U.S. uses around nine billion gallons of water a day. By xeriscaping their yard, homeowners can reduce their water costs substantially and reduce the demand on local water supply.
Reduce Ongoing Costs
Traditional landscaping requires irrigation, plants, seeds, fertilizer, pest control, and labor – this can all add up to a substantial expense for homeowners. Xeriscaping requires much less ongoing financial commitment.
It is also worth noting that several states offer xeriscape landscaping incentives, such as rebate programs, that can save homeowners thousands of dollars for being more water conscious.