Seven Principles of Xeriscaping
- Plan and Design Comprehensively. Complete a plan for your property that takes into consideration existing vegetation, topography of your site and use. Group plants of similar water needs together. Other things to consider are view, soils in the area, exposure and slope. Plan for the phases of installation.
- Evaluate Soil and Amend, if Necessary. An analysis can provide information for plant selection and soil amendments. The addition of compost or sphagnum peat moss can improve water penetration, water retention and root development. This should be done before installing an irrigation system.
- Create Practical Turf Areas. Reduction (or even elimination) of turf areas and separate placement for efficient irrigation can result in significant water use reduction. Careful consideration should be given to use of the turf area. If the only thing you are going to do is look at the turf, you probably don’t need it. Many beautiful water-wise plant materials can be used with much greater impact.
- Zone the Landscape and Group Plants According to Water Needs. Most plants have a place in Xeriscape landscapes. Placement and plant selection is key based upon use. Use of low water need plants allows for maximum conservation.
- Properly Design the Irrigation System and Water Efficiently. Irrigation needs vary from season to season and with changes in the weather. Not all plants need the same amount of water. Rather than on a set schedule, water according to plant needs. Separately irrigate turf areas. Water-wise plants may need supplemental irrigation until they become established (in two to three years) or only in times of severe drought.
- Use Mulches for the Appropriate Plant Material. Mulches reduce weed growth, reduce evaporation, help slow erosion and maintain a more even soil temperature. Proper use of mulch including application depth and maintenance is key to successful Xeriscaping. Mulches types include wood chips, bark, rock and straw.
- Maintain Appropriately. If you have planned wisely, selected environmentally adapted plant materials, and maintained them appropriately, your attractive Xeriscape landscape should require less fertilizer, less pesticides, less water and will become a very valuable asset for your property. Occasional weeding, fertilizing, and irrigation system maintenance will ensure the beauty and quality of your landscape. If your landscape is professionally maintained, make sure the contractor knows how to properly care for it. Over watering and improper pruning can ruin your water wise landscape.
Colorful Xeriscape Options
The following articles are provided courtesy of Craig R. Miller, Horticulturist and ISA Certified Arborist
Factors to Consider When Putting Together Plant Combinations
Make sure that the basic growing conditions preferred by the plants in the planting combination are a match.
Here are the questions you should ask yourself before creating a plant combination:
• Do they like the same type of soil and soil pH?
• Are their watering requirements the same?
• Do they have the same sunlight needs?
• Consider plant vigor. Matching plants that have equal or compatible vigor is crucial when planning any plant combination, as you do not want one plant to overgrow another.
Plant combinations are always more satisfying when using these basic design principles:
• When room allows, plant in groups of three or five plants of each species used in the combination. It makes for a more effective visual impact than planting one of each together.
• Be sure to check the best angle from which the combination will be viewed and arrange accordingly. If planted against a wall, tallest plants go to the back while the shortest ones are up front.
• Put plants together that bloom at the same time and chose complementary colors or similar hues of the same color.
Read profiles and view colorful images of more than 80 xeriscape-friendly species recommended for Front Range gardens.
Miss Kim Lilac