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Xeriscaping for the gardens of the future

Part I

Roger Boddaert

Special to the Village News

Welcome to the wave of xeriscaping, water-wise landscaping and drought-tolerant garden planning as we move into uncharted times.

Undoubtedly, the global climate has been tested by significant world challenges, evident from what we hear via the news media almost daily.

The world's glaciers have been recessing for decades, rivers and lakes have gone dry, and heatwaves persist, along with wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, crop failures, and water restrictions to our gardens, need I say more?

Lake Mead and Lake Powell have fallen to alarming low water levels, a big part of the Southland's water resource. The Central Valley, often referred to as the nation's breadbasket, will be out of production in many areas due to the lack of water.

Huge white blankets are being laid over the foot of ancient ice glaciers in the Switzerland Alps to slow down the melting in the summer sun.

All these calamities are happening now, and it's time to pull up our bootstraps, rethink our home's future landscapes, and prepare for significant changes today and tomorrow in saving water.

Here in Southern California, we live in a semi-desert with a mild Mediterranean climate. This ideal climate has allowed us to bring various plants from similar environments to garnish and beautify our home's exterior landscapes.

The art of xeriscaping and water-wise gardens has been around for some time, but it is more evident when we rethink conserving water in our gardens of today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Xeriscaping combines the Greek prefix "zero," which means dry or arid, with the word meaning "landscape." This form of landscaping can take many forms and will be how gardens are designed and implemented in the future.

This form of gardening is trendy in areas with almost minimal rainfall and ideal for individuals who also want a low-maintenance garden.

It goes far beyond cacti and gravel. Xeriscaping limits expansive lawns; 50% of your water bill can be attributed to watering the turf, and I call the grass the drunkard out in the garden.

Lush, verdant lawns might be a skeleton of the past, as they can be replaced with a low-watering meadow using alternative grasses, which have a valuable place in the future.

Drought-tolerant gardens can be beautiful and give seasonal color, texture, forms, perfume, and unique shapes, lowering your water bill.

Recent years have brought the worst drought California has ever experienced, with a wide array of mandatory water cutbacks. Drought has been an issue in the Southwest for some time but increasingly across North America and around the globe, population growth and global warming are making water issues more focused on availability and long-range sustainability.

As water becomes more scarce, gardens will change, for we must adapt our attitudes about plant choices and gardening practices.

There are some misconceptions about drought-tolerant gardens: they look sparse, dry, and brown and do not have a pleasing natural feeling, which is not valid.

Waterwise gardens can be even more creative if designed well, incorporating plants not commonly used, including our California native plants. Nurseries are exploding today with an abundance of colorful waterwise jewels for our new surroundings, and landscapes are now referred to as boldscape-plants.

Horticulturists are exploring the globe for new introductions to the nursery industry, including plant exhibitions, and are always looking for new cultivars.

We have been accustomed to having annuals in our landscape plantings, but they are not conducive to the amount of water they require.

The spectrum of color in drought-tolerant gardens is grand with the proper plant selections. Remember, colors are also available, using silver, greys, and various shades of greens to enhance a garden setting.

Organizing your landscape should start by asking yourself what you want your garden to say, for it's like decorating the interior of your home but outside. The style of the home's architecture will play a significant factor in the painting of the theme for your water-saving garden.

This new recipe of xeriscaping has many integral components in its complexion, but we must make concessions in the overall big picture, with water as the leading ingredient to govern its makeup.

I will explore this gardening world in future stories, so stay tuned for exciting frontiers for all of us in caring for and nurturing the earth.

'Be a part of the change you want, for you are an important part of that change.'

Roger Boddaert is a landscape consultant who can help you at 760-728-4297.


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