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Xeriscaping for the gardens of the future

Part II

Roger Boddaert

Special to the Village News

This information aims to help you consider changing your landscape, whether you do it yourself or work with a professional. The key is planning the new direction in saving water, having a pleasant garden setting, and enjoying a sustainable atmosphere.

A simple process is to work with a plan of action and education. Let's begin with a clean-up of trash, weeds, dead plants, old garden furniture, and non-essential items sprinkled around the landscape.

· With a basic plan, you can take one section at a time and make it teamwork with family and friends.

· Set your goals and retain any hardscape in the landscape you want to keep, like walkways, fences, and walls, and leave the irrigation system that you can retrofit to the new theme as you proceed. Perhaps start with the front yard and work your way to the rear garden.

· Retain the plants that will fit as part of the future theme for the new garden, if they are drought tolerant.

· Once you have a clean slate, you'll have a chance to envision your new direction and enjoy the process, for a landscape can bring so much happiness about your home.

· Measure your site and use graph paper of ¼ inch = 1 foot in scale. You can use your smartphone to find the true north for a compass.

· Call 800 DIG Alert two days before digging, so you'll understand the underground utilities leading into your property.

· Lay out the elements you want to retain on this conceptual sketch plan with various symbols. You'll flag all irrigation heads, drainage, and underground electrical components that exist so as not to damage them in the digging process.

· Let's start by removing grass without harmful chemicals and retaining healthy soils when possible. You can rent a sod cutter for this process to make it easier.

· There are some rebates from the county that you should look into with a dollar amount for removing turf and planning a new water-wise landscape.

· If you contour the land, move your soil around to capture any rainfall flow and watershed from the surrounding areas. You might consider mounding the dirt to give the ground some personality, a unique feature, and maybe import soil if more is needed.

· When you have sloping terrain, you must consider how erosion might affect your property and channel any runoff into the watershed of the garden setting.

· Consider a rain barrel to capture water runoff from the roof and gutter system.

· San Diego has many temperature ranges, so understanding your climate zone will govern your plant selections. Here in Fallbrook, we have high hilltops with afternoon breezes that will be warmer than the low valleys and canyons with lower temperatures in the winter.

· What type of soil do you have, clay, alluvial, sandy, D.G.?

· Consider getting the soil tested, for soil structure and nutrients are the foundation of any good Xeriscape landscape, and I suggest having the soil tested professionally.

· Good soil is the earth's food web, comprising fungi, arthropods, bacteria, and mycorrhizae of many types. Healthy soils will give you a healthy garden down the road. I believe in feeding the soil, not the plants, for the soil is where all energy will be uploaded into plants of all types.

· You can go online to find many 'waterwise" sites with plant lists to investigate for your new landscape.

· You might visit a nursery to look at the plants that fit your interests and the criteria that work for your new dream garden of the future. Armstrong Nursery is a good resource with a knowledgeable staff.

· An excellent reading is "Hot Color, Dry Gardens" by Nan Sterman. This book will lead you through the step-by-step process of xeriscaping.

· The San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas is an excellent outing for all sorts of ideas on plants, their looks, their sizes, and their ultimate growth range.

· The California Botanic Garden in Claremont will display native plantings with various water-saving layouts.

· The landscape at the Palomares house in Fallbrook will show you some looks, plants, and creative ideas to consider.

I hope I have wet your whistle and opened some new horizons in understanding the world of xeriscaping, to save water, money, and maintenance, and to be a part of the solution as the earth turns.

Understand that our planet has just so many resources to give us, but we must use them wisely.

Recycle, reuse, repurpose, preserve and rethink for our salvation.

"A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children." John Madison.

Roger Boddaert is a landscape consultant who can help you in the art of xeriscaping; he can be reached at 760-728-4297.


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