The Enchanted Xeriscape
A xeriscape garden can feature numerous plants introduced from Australia, South America, Mexico, and the Mediterranean, as well as a large variety of plants indigenous to the four desert regions of North America.
Xeriscaping utilizes several principles that make the design unique and water-wise. First and foremost, the design should embrace the concept of an oasis. The cool, lush areas that require the highest use of water should be placed near the area where one lives. The further away from the oasis, the less water consumptive the landscape. Next is the limitation of turf areas. Place modest quantities of turf in areas where it will be used for cooling the environment, for play and recreation. Don't forget the utilitarian need for animals. There is no sense in placing thousands of square feet of turf grass out where no one will use it. Often, less water consumptive landscape materials such as groundcovers or mulches may be utilized in place of thirsty grasses.
Of equal importance is the irrigation system design. Most modern systems are very efficient, utilizing the latest in technology. Bubblers or drip emitters are placed accordingly for trees and shrubs, allowing for low volume, deep soakings. The design for turf areas should allow for completely separate valves. The irrigation controllers should have independent scheduling for turf areas and those which contain trees and shrubs. In addition to efficient irrigation design, the landscape should make use of some amendments to improve the capacity of the soil to hold water and nutrients. Mulch covers on the soil surface help to reduce erosion, retain moisture and minimize the fluctuation in soil temperature.
The use of water efficient plants does not necessarily mean drab gray plants with lots of thorns or just cactus. The "green industry" has spent a considerable amount of time and money to introduce lush, colorful plants from all over the world. Many are well adapted to our desert conditions. Xeriscape gardens and landscapes provide for many of the basic needs of wildlife. Trees, shrubs and groundcovers provide a variety of foods such as seed, fruit and nectar. Insects attracted by various plants also become food for birds and reptiles. Wildlife also seeks the shelter that many plants render. Plants afford protection from predators and the elements and provide nesting sites for birds. No matter what you call it: desert landscaping, water efficient landscaping or xeriscaping, just remember, if you live in a desert or an arid region, it is the right thing to do!
Make the most of your landscape and you will enjoy it for many years to come! See pictures