There are several steps in creating a beautiful, water-wise garden. But, I must admit that my favorite step involves selecting plants.
In our previous post, we discussed the first three steps in creating a water-wise garden (xeriscape). Now, we are getting to the really fun part.
4. Plant Selection –
It is important to select plants that aren’t ‘water spenders’. That is plants that use a lot of water, which is wasteful. Besides, you don’t need to use high water use plants when there are so many beautiful drought-tolerant plants. Use plants that are native or are adapted to your area. Plants that are weak or ill-adapted to your area are not only difficult to grow; they also tend to use a lot of water. Here is a link for listings of drought-tolerant plants that are suitable for most areas in the Southwest. Birds & Blooms also have some great suggestions for other areas of the country as well.
5. Efficient Irrigation –
Saving water in the garden doesn’t just consist of choosing the right plants. You have to use proper watering methods. A very popular method of watering plants in arid areas is drip-irrigation where water is delivered directly to the root zone of plants via a slow dripping. Other water-efficient methods consist of using a soaker hose. Both of these methods can be achieved by the homeowner and materials can be found at your local big box store.
6. Mulches –
There are many benefits of using mulch in the garden. It serves to conserve water because it prevents it from evaporating quickly and keeps moisture in the root zone for a longer length of time. In addition, mulch helps to prevent weeds and helps to keep the soil cool in summer and keeps it warm in winter months, which protects plants.
Mulches come in a variety of forms and can be organic such as shredded bark, wood chips and compost or inorganic such as rock (gravel/granite). All forms work well, but organic mulches will improve the soil over time, but will need to be refreshed occasionally.
7. Maintenance –
Believe it or not, a water-wise garden (xeriscape) will actually decrease the amount of maintenance that your garden requires. Plants that use a lot of water, grow quickly and need to be pruned more often as opposed to more drought-tolerant plants. Decreased areas of lawn also keep maintenance down to a minimum. Drought-tolerant plants generally tend to be tougher, need less fertilizer – if any and won’t need excessive care.
So, if a beautiful, water-wise garden is what you desire – it can be yours