You may not have heard of xeriscaping before, but it’s probably something you see almost every day as it’s just a style of landscape design that requires little to no irrigation or maintenance. And while the concept of xeriscaping definitely came about because of people who wanted gorgeous outdoor spaces, but lived in drought-affected areas, in fact, it really makes sense for almost all landscapes. Read on to find out why a low water garden might be the right choice for you.
Why Should I Consider Installing a Low Water Garden?
Over 50 percent of the water used by residential Americans is used watering lawns and keeping landscapes alive. Even if you don’t live in a place where water conservation is mandatory, you can still help save our most valuable resource by switching to a low water garden.
Veronica Boyer, architect designer and owner of EcoDesignSD, says your plants that are native to where you live will also thrive and look a lot better in your garden. “It’s not necessarily about a drought,” she says. “It’s about being low maintenance. It’s hard for a plant to adapt to an environment it’s not from. You can’t plant succulents in the mountains or tropical flowers in the dessert and expect them to do well. It’s a matter of placing the right plant in the right place.”
Having a low water garden also helps reduce pollution and negative effects on the environment, as you don’t need gas lawn mowers or chemical fertilizers and pesticides and native plants may also foster a healthy wildlife habitat.
But I Really Love My Lawn
Yes, it’s true that with low water landscapes, the lawn is usually the first thing to go. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have to have a lawn at all. Boyer recommends buffalograss, which can survive with very little fertilizer, water, or mowing and recovers well after not being irrigated. “You can also use artificial turf,” she says. “The new ones are good; they last a long time and look very real.”
Will I Have to Change My Irrigation System?
Since your high-maintenance lawn is gone, Boyer suggests people making this change get rid of their sprinkler system in favor of a drip irrigation system. “That way you aren’t wasting water and watering areas that don’t need it,” she says. A drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the base of the plant, so there’s less evaporation, pooling, and erosion.
Do I Have to Get Rid of Everything in My Garden?
The point of a low water garden is to improve the environment, not create more destruction, so Boyer says she tries to keep as much as she can and work with what’s there. “I try to save and reuse materials and be conscious about what’s being thrown away and what’s being kept.” Yes, some things may have to go, but it may also just be a matter of moving a plant or tree to a location in your yard or garden where it will have a better chance of succeeding.
You may also want to look at things you don’t like in your garden anymore and see if there’s a way they can be repurposed. “I had a client who had a fountain they didn’t use anymore,” Boyer says. “They were sick of cleaning it and taking care of it. So we turned it into a succulent planter and now it’s a focal point in their garden. They love it because it’s not a lot of work and it looks beautiful.”
Tell Me More About This “Not a Lot of Work” Thing
One of the biggest benefits of xeriscaping is that it’s low maintenance. “You’re going to save a lot of time,” Boyer says. “If you have plants that are native, you’re not going to have to work so hard for those plants to survive and look beautiful. You can go out of town for three weeks and not worry about your garden. And you’ll save money because you won’t have to keep putting money in to ensure the plant survives.”
Why Should I Hire a Professional to Help Me Design My Low Water Garden or Landscape?
It’s always important to talk to the right people to help you achieve something you may not know a lot about as you’ll just get better quality work. Boyer points out that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you may also end up spending a lot more money. “I think it’s important to hire a professional for anything you’re going to do if you’re not an expert,” she says. But in this case, it’s also about finding someone who can help with the planning and design, soil analysis, plant selection, irrigation, and show you how to maintain it all. “Their advice and help will make your life a lot easier,” she says. An expert will also help you establish a timeline depending on how big your outdoor space is and what you want to change and will ensure you stick to your budget.
Remember, a xeriscape garden doesn’t mean your garden has to be barren or lacking color. A professional will help ensure that it’s the exact opposite and full of gorgeous native plants that will fit your aesthetic and thrive. And best of all, it will be easier on you and better for the environment.
[Photo credits: All photos via Eco Designs SD]