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Arts & Life

Understanding The 7 Principles Of Xeriscape

xeriscape patio Patrick Standish cc.jpg
Patrick Standish
Creative Commons/Flickr

We all enjoy landscapes that look nice and are also easy and inexpensive to maintain. By applying principles of Xeriscape to your yard, you can have both.

Water conservation is increasingly important as more people put more demands on our natural water resources. Along the Front Range, almost 50 percent of residential water is used outside. We use more water keeping our bluegrass lawns green during the heat of summer than we use to bathe.

The Front Range averages 14 or 15 inches of natural moisture annually. We receive almost half of the precipitation in the spring in the form of wet snows and thunderous downpours.

The soils vary from broken-down mountain granite to fast-draining sandy loam to water-holding clay. Each soil type requires specific water regimes.

A water-efficient landscape takes all of our climatic and aesthetic challenges into consideration. It can create 30 to 60 percent water savings. It all depends on how intensely the Xeriscape concept is used.

The seven principles of Xeriscape are:

  • Planning and designing so the landscape fits together. That makes for a beautiful and functional design.
  • Analyzing the soil and improving it so less water is used. You have to know what you have so you can improve on it.
  • Creating a practical lawn area instead of a football field of shortly mown bluegrass. The estate lawn is a throwback to English aristocracy.
  • Appropriately grouping plants together by how much water they need. Water-loving plants love to be together as much as drought-tolerant natives need to be together.
  • Using efficient irrigation as opposed to sprinkler systems that run daily during the monsoon season. Turn off the clock and water when water is needed.
  • Mulching to conserve water. Ground cover plants create a great water-saving mulch.  
  • Using appropriate maintenance for each type of area. Let some areas go wild but keep others prim and proper.

Non-native, water-loving plants are part of a Xeriscape. Native, drought-tolerant plants are part of it too. Water efficient, environmentally sane landscape doesn't have to be a zero-scape. It can be a beautiful mixture of blooming flowers, lush shrubs, green grass and shading trees.

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