Spring is here and the warmth of summer isn’t far behind. Along with the sunny days comes a spike in your water bill from keeping your lawn green and happy. Xeriscaping can not only cut back on your water bill, but it can also “drought proof” your yard. Not only is xeriscaping drought friendly, but it helps save water during normal summers as well. Saving water helps the environment and your wallet.
Xeriscaping is a term coined by Denver’s water department in the 70s and 80s when they were amid a harsh drought period. It is a concept that combines native, drought resistant plants, irrigation methods and strategic arrangements to conserve water.
There are several reasons why xeriscape could be a good fit for your home. It reduces water usage by at least 60%. It minimizes pollution by reducing the need for gas lawn mowers. There is no need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Low watering requirements not only help your wallet, but also mean less maintenance. Xeriscape can also increase your home’s value up to 15%.
There are seven essential principles of xeriscaping.
- Planning and Design. Sketch out a general plan and outline of your landscape, structures, paths and existing foliage. You will be able to note where you can execute xeriscape elements; ie removing certain plants or implementing new turf areas.
- Choosing the Right Plants. Choose plants that are native to your area. Foreign vegetation has a harder time adapting and will require more water, defeating the purpose. Choose drought-resistant plants. Often such plants will be thick, small, glossy, fuzzy, or silver-grey.
- Creating Turf Areas. Limit areas with turf as much as possible. Determine where your grass would be most useful and beware of locations it might take away from other plants. Dig deep to find out which types of grass would be best suited for your environment.
- Improving Soil. It would be best if your soil stored water and drained quickly to prevent stagnation. Increase the amount of organic material (compost) in your soil. Aerate your soil often. Add bonemeal, rock phosphate, and glacial rock dust to replenish nutrients and minerals.
- Irrigation. Overwatering can be detrimental to xeriscape, so try to avoid that by using a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose.
- Mulch. Mulch is designed to prevent erosion, maintain moisture and temperature, and eliminate competing weeds. Try covering your soil around plants with a layer of mulch that should be several inches thick. You can use leaves, pine needles, wood chips, bark, gravel, or coarse compost.
- Maintenance. Low maintenance does not mean no maintenance. There will still be basic plant grooming you will need to do. Thicken your mulch when necessary and be attentive to any weeds that come up and remove them.
Colorado Springs Utilities has two demonstration gardens located at 2855 Mesa Road, Colorado Springs and 3920 Dublin Blvd., Colorado Springs. For more information on demonstration gardens as well as facts, videos and classes on xeriscaping, please visit https://www.csu.org/Pages/xeriscapebasics.aspx.
For your home building needs, please contact Marty Brinegar with Pregio Homes at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719.475.7997