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Xeriscaping your landscape, part I


Last updated 1/24/2008 at Noon

Drought-resistant succulents can be planted in an assortment of colors, textures and interesting shapes.

Welcome to the new year with new challenges, new desires and a bright year ahead with proper planning.

Along with all those new resolutions, we should be thinking of the critical years that lie ahead with the utmost consideration for water as a precious resource. California has been in a pattern of lower-than-average rainfall for about the past decade and the last two years were most evident of the changing climatic conditions.

Perhaps it’s time to look at our existing landscapes and new homes with more of an immediate concern for water conservation, both now and in the future. By using some basic and simple steps, you can practice water conservation in your garden and it can be beautiful, easier to take care of and will save you money.

Xeriscape (pronounced “ZEER-i-scape”) is derived from the Greek word “xeros,” which means dry. As San Diego County has such a dry climate, it has to import more than 90 percent of its water.

With our ever-growing population, cutbacks and restrictions on water have become a reality. With the new 30-percent water cutbacks to local farmers, San Diego’s farming community will have a real challenge ahead.

Since so much water gets poured on our landscapes, you’d think we’d have to sacrifice them.

Our ideal Mediterranean climate offers us an enormous selection of plants along with California native plants that look great and will thrive on only an occasional drink once established. With proper design, professional installation and proper management, you can combine these principles together and you have xeriscape Southern California style.

Most of your water is used outdoors and we can greatly improve its use and efficiency through proper landscaping and water-wise techniques.

Traditional landscapes with large, grassy lawns and thirsty trees and shrubs need lots of water and lots of care. They can be modified or replaced with landscapes that are colorful, shady and easy to care for.

We must adopt these principles in order to conserve these valuable natural resources both now and down the road, for us today, our kids tomorrow and our grandkids in the future.

Whether your interest runs from colorful flowerbeds, vegetable gardening and shady spots to sit and snooze or even lawns to lay on, you can have it all if you practice good water management, for that is the key.

Some of the rewards that these drought-tolerant and creative landscapes can give you are:

• Attractive, cool and green landscapes with thousands of colorful and interesting plants to choose from, for the plant matrix is huge.

• Savings of up to 40 percent on summer water bills on landscaping that can better survive drought conditions once established.

• Landscapes that require less maintenance, less time on mowing and other yard work, less fertilizer and pest control.

• Energy saved with properly placed trees and landscaping, which saves on cooling and heating.

It is also important to work with Mother Nature instead of against her. Reduce landscape-related pollutants in runoff, known as “non-point” pollution. Reduce demand for energy and other natural resources that will become even more precious. The times are a-changing; get prepared now.

We must consider our homes and gardens sanctuaries from the fast-moving pace of today’s society. If you own a piece of earth, no matter what size, you have a golden opportunity of sustaining a garden for food, visual enjoyment and being part of a greener and more invigorating and healthy lifestyle.

For food to reach our tables it may travel by train, plane and truck to reach your plate after a journey that averages between 1,500 and 2,500 miles.

So much of the cost of that head of lettuce, side of pork, can of beans is tied up in transportation of items to your local grocery store. Think about “home-grown” gardens and remember “V” is for “Victory Gardens.”

A shady path meanders through this xeriscape garden.

With the dependency on the black oil from the earth, we must alter our thinking about what we do to the landscapes of our homes and it can start today.

I will give you workable and creative suggestions for your home and landscaping in part II of “Xeriscaping your landscape.”

Consider this your growing challenge today, for you have already accomplished your first step: you have read this article. I hope I have piqued your interest, so stay tuned and be water-wise.

Roger Boddaert, a horticultural landscape designer, can be reached for consultations at (760) 728-4297.


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