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Xeriscaping your landscape, part II


Last updated 1/31/2008 at Noon

Low water use plants for xeriscaping include palms and lycads.

As I sit down this week and put together some valuable information on xeriscaping for all to share, it’s raining outside and my garden is loving it…hmm!

As a horticulturalist who always enjoys the winter months for the varied seasonal aspects, it’s hard to focus on gathering my thoughts on the dry garden when outside the gray-white clouds are trickling raindrops from above to nurture the earth.

But with the future having limited resources of many types, we must really be prepared in a multitude of ways, both in our homes and landscape surroundings, to adjust, rethink and plan for new and beautiful horizons.

This series on xeriscaping shall not only discuss water, which is the true elixir of life, but give you some ideas for a sustainable environment all around your home and landscape.

Do you get all bothered when you see excess irrigation water running down the sidewalk and into the gutter? Are you kept awake at night by the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet? Are you aware of how much water we really do use?

Here are some details that you should know about, as our water is such a critical resource but so taken for granted in our daily living:

• Watering a lawn/garden requires approximately 350 to 800 gallons per irrigation, depending on the size and time of year

• A leaking toilet loses about 20 gallons a day

• Taking a shower uses around 35 gallons, depending on time

• A load of clothes being washed uses 48 gallons

• Washing the car uses approximately 80 gallons. Use a turn-off nozzle on the hose

• Cooking requires about three to five gallons a day

• Brushing your teeth uses about a gallon, so fill up a cup

• The typical water use for a single-family detached home (three occupants) is about 150,000 gallons per year (50 percent used in the yard, mainly for irrigation; 17 percent for toilet flushing; 15 percent for bathing; 11 percent for clothes washing; and seven percent for all other uses)

With this type of information we must also calculate into our thinking the amount of water that we draw from in the world.

The following is what water is on the planet: salt water, with all the oceans, constitutes the largest amount, with fresh water and ground water next. Then there are the glaciers and ice caps and, finally, water from lakes and streams.

If the global climatic change scenario is correct and the weather patterns are changing with lower rainfalls and less depths in our mountain snow-packs, we must really strap on our boots, dig deep into the trenches and be very conscious of the finite natural resources – such as water – available for are use.

With this year’s reduction of agricultural water of 30 percent, a real challenge is coming to our farming community and the county and food production for the nation. This could be only the start of a changing society, changing land usage and what we do and how we manage the elixir of life: water.

In a nutshell, xeriscape is water conservation through creative, appropriate landscaping and water management. You can have almost any garden look you like and still save water. Your garden can be a beautiful oasis and significantly increase the value of your home while still saving water.

The fundamentals of xeriscaping can be broken down into seven simple steps:

1. Planning and good landscape layout and design

2. Limited turf areas (and there are many alternatives)

3. Efficient and professionally designed irrigation systems

4. Soil improvements for water penetration and holding capacity. Good soils make for good healthy plants

5. Mulches to cover and cool the soil with less evaporation

6. Low water use plants (and there are thousands)

7. Sound stewardship and professional landscape care

In part III of this series I will go into more details of the how’s and do’s to put these concepts into reality whether you have an existing garden that could be retrofitted or are planning a new landscape setting for around your home.

Man belongs to the earth and not earth to man. Let’s give her more respect, for it is our only lifeline.

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


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