Using Xeriscaping to Save Time and Water

xeriscape demonstration garden
The Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at the headquarters of Denver Water in Denver, Colorado. (Wikipedia)
While having a full fledged garden is rewarding and enjoyable, lots of people simply don’t have the time that is required to maintain it. Whether you have too much going on at work or too many kids to take care of, you should never try to operate a garden if you don’t think you can handle it.

For those people who are just too busy for a normal garden, I would suggest a somewhat recent method of gardening known as Xeriscaping. This minimal yet stylish theory first emerged in Colorado when water levels were at an all time low. It is a great method of having a great looking yard or garden, without having to maintain it or water it very often at all.

Here in Colorado, many places are offering free Xeriscaping lessons in order to encourage the conservation of water. If your area is undergoing a drought, you should check with the water suppliers and see if they are offering lessons. If you attend those, you will be able to get advice specific to your region (IE types of plants to grow, how much to water them, etc).

To some, the name Xeriscaping conjures the image of a yard that consists of a giant rock bed. However, this is known as “zero scaping”, and it is a considerably different concept. It focuses on reducing your yard to nothing that requires any maintenance whatsoever. Unfortunately this is usually just rocks. But this shouldn’t be your goal. While keeping maintenance at a minimum, it is still possibly to retain a nice looking yard that won’t attract the negative attention of everyone who passes by.

This might sound like it would be hard to implement without making your yard into a hideous mess, but this is not so at all. The theory basically involves choosing plants which are low maintenance to begin with, then putting them each in environments that are ideal. It is usually applied by figuring out what side of the house to place it on to get the best amount of shade, and figuring out how to group it with plants with similar water needs.

To get started in your Xeriscaping renovation, you first need to pick out all the plants you will be using. They should for the most part require a low amount of water. This doesn’t mean you can only grow cactuses in your yard. Just cut back on the really thirsty plants that you have to water every day to keep alive. You’ll want to stick with local plants for the most part, and don’t go with anything too exotic as these generally require larger amounts of water.

The second most important principle of xeriscaping is placing the plants in ideal areas. If you place them all together with plants that require essentially the same amount of water, then you will end up saving lots of water. Also place the plants in areas where they will be protected from wind or excessive sun, depending on the needs of the plants. Xeriscaping is almost the same thing as microclimating, just with more of a focus on adaptation to harsh conditions rather than avoiding them. So if it sounds good to you and you’re looking to save time and water by renovating your garden, you should look for xeriscaping lessons. [od]

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