Xeriscaping Your Yard

When I was a kid, my father spent hours every weekend working on the yard. He watered it, fertilized it, put pesticides on it, cut it, bagged the clippings, put weed killer on it, etc. etc. etc.

What my dad didn't know was that he was creating a greener yard but not a greener planet. He wasted barrels of water trying to keep the lawn moist in the Florida summer heat. The toxic chemicals from his pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers ended up in our aquifer, lakes and rivers. The gas he burned in the lawn mower during the hours he spent riding from one side of the property to the other contributed to global warming.

It wasn't exactly his fault though. For generations the symbol of one's self-respect and success was a beautiful green yard. In the process of winning the neighborhood's "best-yard" prize many people put very dangerous chemicals into our atmosphere like DDT, nitrogen oxide, and heptachlor.

Now that many cities are struggling with dwindling water supplies, home-owners are taking a second look at their yards. There are ways to have a beautiful landscape in front of your home while conserving water and protecting the planet. Xeriscaping is a concept that was created by the Denver Colorado Water Department in 1981 to help local residents conserve water. The concept is still very relevant today.

Essentially, the idea behind xeriscaping is to minimize the use of thirsty grass and to maximize the use of rocks, localized plants and cacti.

The best way to xeriscape your yard is to identify the area you really want to be covered in grass. Perhaps that patch along the road or an area closer to the home. Once you have zeroed in on the new grass area, divide it from the rest of the yard with attractive stones or short fencing. Pull up the now unnecessary grass area.

Next, decide what type of cover you want for the rest of the yard. Many people choose organic mulch or lava rocks. There are plenty of options that suit your needs.

Once you have covered the rest of your yard with an attractive layer of grass alternative, ask your local nursery for assistance choosing plants that grow locally. These plants are accustomed to the soil and weather in your community and will thrive without additional water or fertilizers. Often, cacti and wild grasses are recommended by nurseries because they require little upkeep, are inexpensive and can cover a wide swath of yard. Cacti can also grow attractive flowers in the Spring and Summer months. Strategically place these plants around your yard to provide the look of a carefully landscaped area.

Finally, fill in empty areas of the yard with big colorful stones or potted trees. You can pot small exotic trees and locate them around your yard where they are easy to keep watered.

If you'd like to learn more, Colorado has put together a xeriscaping website with pictures and tips.

1 comment:

  1. Now a days, xeriscaping is not only used to eliminate the needs for supplemental water from irrigation, it is also use today because of its low maintenance and its simple creative beauty.