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What Is Xeriscape and Its Seven Principles?

Xeriscape is...adaptable to any location and environment, Xeriscape is a landscaping concept with seven guiding principles – not a particular landscape design, style, or theme. 


Xeris example 1




• Pronounced Zer-i-scape

• Adaptable to any environment

• Water-thrifty desert plants

• Colorful and beneficial to wildlife

• Functional grass is OK!

• Pronounced Zer-o-scape

• Few plants or just rocks

• Little shade, hot, uninviting


Seven Xeriscape Principles

1. Design to fit your lifestyle.
No time for maintenance? Make it easy. Got kids or pets? Make it functional for a family. Want to attract wildlife? Make it native. Check out the free publications on landscaping with low-water-use plants.

2. Put the right plant in the right place. Hardworking, desert-wise plants come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll discover a plant palette that is awash with color and accented by unique forms, plants that are both beautiful and tough, and plants that are well adapted to desert living.

3. Use turf where it is functional. Grass can be appropriate in Xeriscape if it is useful, such as in play areas for children, but grass should also work hard in desert landscapes. If you like the color of grass but don’t need its functionality, choose tough, low-growing groundcovers instead.

4. Prepare the soil. Desert plants don’t need soil improvements. Just dig a good hole at planting time to get plants off to a healthy start.

5.  Apply mulch. Mulch provides a cover over the soil, reducing evaporation, soil temperature, and erosion. It also reduces weed growth and helps control dust, improving air quality. Traditional organic mulches such as compost are good in small gardens, adding nutrients and structure to the soil, but often are not practical for larger expanses in a desert landscape. Decomposed granite, or crushed rock, is an inorganic mulch that is more appropriate for large areas.

6.  Water efficiently. Although some desert plants can survive on rainfall alone, most landscape plants will require watering  during extended dry periods to maintain their appearance. Drip irrigation systems are designed to deliver water directly to the roots of landscape plants, and automatic irrigation controllers offer flexibility in scheduling and optional water-saving features.

7.  Maintain regularly. Xeriscape is low maintenance by design, reducing the need for an arduous routine of watering, fertilizing, weeding, and pruning. But all landscapes need maintenance occasionally. Weeds will crop up. Irrigation systems require periodic inspections to work efficiently. Automatic watering schedules should be adjusted seasonally. And pruning, though seldom required, should be performed when necessary.


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