Friday, January 20, 2012

What Does Xeriscaping Mean to Us Texans

What Does Xeriscaping Mean to Us Texans by Ralph Edge

Xeriscaping in Dallas

Many people often ask "What is Xeriscaping" and for good reason these days as water conservation is becoming increasingly important for landscaping and irrigation in Dallas. Xeriscaping was a term coined back in the 1970s not in Dallas, but in Denver, to mean water wise or water efficient landscaping. The drought of the 1970s in Colorado was of biblical proportions and this helped change the way we think of the term “water wise” and now xeriscaping. Did you know that the historians normally say the Colorado drought lasted from 1974 until 1981….WOW! Xeriscaping at a different level than we have seen.

We've heard the history lessons of the dustbowls of the 30s and some of us at CGreen Landscape Irrigation remember the dust storms in West Texas in the late 50s. With proper planting and correct conservation of water, we can help ourselves in this current drought environment with water management practices. Think of this as a basic “primer” to your spring planting and landscaping.

So what is Xeriscaping? The term xeriscaping is derived from the Greek word xeros, which means dry. Don’t let the definition of xeriscaping mislead you into thinking we’re talking about deserts and cactus or even a drought plagued, barren landscape. Xeriscaping is a method of gardening that involves choosing plants that are appropriate to their site and creating a landscape that can be maintained with little supplemental watering.

• Xeriscaping refers to landscaping in ways that do not require supplemental irrigation. Xeriscaping is promoted in areas that do not have easily accessible supplies of fresh water.

• The word Xeriscaping was coined by combining xeros (Greek for "dry") with landscaping. Plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate are emphasized, and care is taken to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off.

• XeriscapeTM and the xeriscape logo are registered trademarks of the Denver Water, the City of Denver's Water Department. They were created by the Front Range Xeriscape Task Force of Denver Department in 1981.

• Xeriscaping is not the same as “Xeroscaping”--in which the landscape consists mostly of concrete, stones or gravel, with perhaps a cactus or two thrown in--and can look quite lush and colorful.

Xeriscaping is NOT dry only.

• Even though dry-only landscaping can be spectacularly colorful and even lush, limited areas of highly-watered landscape are completely consistent with wise water use, if the return justifies it. Heavily-irrigated athletic field turf, for example, makes sense, since it recovers quickly from heavy use.

Xeriscaping is NOT just rocks and gravel.

• Although dry (xeric) rock gardens can be interesting, there are many other wonderful choices for the xeric portions of Xeriscape designs.

Xeriscaping is NOT about native plants only.

• Although there is a vast array of wonderful native plants, non-invasive introduced plants that are well-adapted to our climate are a wonderful addition to waterwise landscaping. Many Irises, Hollies and even Roses are example of introduced plants that are well adapted to non-irrigated landscaping in Texas.

Xeriscaping Plant is technically a meaningless term.

• Xeriscaping can have highly irrigated, as well as dry areas, so the term "xeriscape plant" means nothing. Xeric, plant, however, is an accurate term. It refers to plants that prefer to be dry most of the time. Presumably what people really mean when they say "xeriscape plant", is xeric plant.

By applying these simple techniques you will be conserving water and improving local water quality - all while still having a beautiful garden.

7 Principles of Xeriscaping

1. Careful planning and design

2. Soil Improvement

3. Intelligent reduction of turf areas

4. Choosing appropriate plants

5. Mulching

6. Wise irrigation

7. Maintenance

Remember we have a finite amount of water the better we plan the better use we have of the water that is available. When your neighbors allow their sprinkler system to run water down the street and into the storm sewer, they steal water usage from you and we all end up short of water, with dead plants and generally a bad attitude. So plant water wise plants, conserve your irrigated water and help your neighbor.