Monday, March 19, 2012

Planning and Design

Planning and Design
Part One of the Seven Elements of Xeriscaping

The fundamental element of Xeriscape design is water conservation. Landscape designers constantly look for ways to reduce the amount of applied water and to maximize the use of natural precipitation.

         Using graph paper, draw an aerial view of your property, another way to do this is by using “Google Earth” it will measure and give you a view you have not seen before, begin your plan with the following considerations

·         Orient the plot by marking down north, south, east and west. Include any limiting features such as trees, fences, walkways or structures. Note areas of sun and shade, which will help you, establish zones of differing water needs. You'll want to group plants with similar watering needs for most efficient water use. The term for this in irrigation “talk” is hydra- zoning, by using this method of water distribution you can capitalize on your local areas water restrictions, and keep your new plantings alive at the same time

·         Study the natural contours and drainage patterns of the land. These contours can be easily developed into terraces, which add visual interest and help reduce soil loss and erosion due to rain or irrigation. Terraces can be as little as 3" and still offer visual appeal; terraces over 12" will require considerable support, such as rock walls or timbers reinforced with steel stakes. Also consider areas under trees where the grass will not grow no matter how many times you re-sod it, so expose those massive roots (gently) and fill in around them with different sizes and colors of river rock, the trees will like you for it and you will not be stressing over your bare dirt.

Rain Garden
 Another consideration in studying the contours of the property, do you have a low spot that always seems damp and boggy and fills with rain water, turn it into a permeable rain garden with bog loving  plants, make use of those areas that you would normally shy away from and let nature water them.

 Bubble Diagram
·         Consider the planned use of each area within the plot. Areas for seating, walkways, visual barriers, dining or play should be defined and incorporated into your plan. In the world of landscape we call this a bubble diagram… very, very helpful in designating and planning  you next home improvement adventure

 ·         Areas to be left as turf should be designed to be easily mowed. Curved swaths are usually better than straight runs with sharp turns. Narrow swaths can be difficult to water with conventional sprinklers. When choosing your turf area stay away from water hogs… grasses that demand heavy watering and high nitrogen fertilization, a grass that has to be mowed every other day with a special reel mower…I mean really, is that what you want to be doing with your spare time?

·         Larger plantings, such as shrubs and trees, can be positioned to provide natural heating and cooling opportunities for adjacent buildings.  When choosing a tree think….”Mature Growth”….if you live in a zero lot line house with a 20 by 20 foot yard area do you really want a tree when, in its adult life, has a span of 40 feet and a height of 70 feet. That kind of tree, while perfect in a rural setting or large lot setting will be nothing but a headache for a smaller property, it is not the right plant.

Xeriscaping is all about conserving the resources we have available, we do that by making good decisions about what, where, when, and how we plant and design our landscape.

Thanks and Enjoy the Life  

Ralph Edge

Texas Certified Master Nursery Professional # 5330

Texas Certified Landscape Professional # 577

Texas Licensed Irrigator #13733

Texas Licensed Backflow Assembly Tester #12012

Texas A&M and EPA Certified Irrigation Auditor

Texas Dept. Of Agriculture Commercial Applicator

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