Global environmental problems including climate change, loss of biodiversity, global warming, food insecurity, water scarcity and pollution have caused alarm to many nations to take initiatives. In California, water scarcity has been of great concern hence there is a need for conserving water primarily in the homesteads. Studies have shown that in California, people apply over 50 percent of residential water they use to lawns and landscape. Therefore, the most vital way of reducing this usage of water is to change the way we water our lawn.
However, only some people are willing to change their landscaping. This is probably because tearing out a pre-existing lawn is labor demanding, and a number of people really like their green, water-hungry lawn in spite of the water scarcity. In the early 1980s, Nancy Leavitt of Denver Water (a public utility) discovered the term xeriscape, as a mixture of the Greek word "xeros" meaning dry or arid and landscape. Xeriscaping is the art of designing water-saving landscapes by effective watering methods and choosing plants that are suitable to the natural environment. Well-designed xeriscapes are not only functional but also beautiful. The best xeriscapes use a portion of the water required by typical lawn-dominated landscapes. When established, some xeric plants need little or no extra watering and xeriscape require far less constant care.
One resource saved by xeriscaping is California's limited water supply, dependent on the ever-increasing demands. This results in instant cost savings through lower water bills. Xeriscaping can decrease the number of plant trimmings, which have to be managed or discarded, hence helping you and your community to conserve resources. A reduction in plant trimmings can decrease the amount of labor required to sustain a given landscape. Alternatively, reduced plant maintenance gives more time on other aspects of landscape care or on landscape account. Our dry, sunny days and cool nights create the best environment for breeding a large amount of attractive plants. However, our dramatic temperature extremes, quite a short growing season and frequently extended periods of drought can cause challenges to even the most experienced gardeners. Xeriscaping with water-saving plants seem sensible in California.
Although several are aware of the danger caused by drought, quite a small number of them seem willing to make concessions to it and search for drought-resistant options to lawn grasses. Many homeowners watch powerlessly as their lawns die sooner and sooner each summer. In addition, they pay costly for the water needed to extend the lawn's life, as water becomes more and more expensive. Eventually, automatic irrigation methods can end up saving you money. Nevertheless, water restrictions of rising severity are a fact with which we must live with for the near future.
In the mid 1980s, xeriscape was so promising that water purveyors and others concerned in conservation started to promote it enthusiastically instead of traditional landscape as part of water conservation policies. Researchers carried out various studies in the 1990s, to enhance better understanding of its true efficiency as a conservation tool, which have in general marked savings linked with xeriscape to be between 25% and 42% for the residential division. The difference in savings estimates is because of a large number of aspects ranging from the diverse climates of each survey's area.
In California, the practice of xeriscaping will differ from area to area. Plants, which are suitable in one climate, may not succeed well in another. One needs to design landscapes to be well suited with locally available resources, including soil types, sunlight, and water. Primarily, one can plan a landscape to decrease the amount of resources needed to sustain it and the amount of waste it generates. Each region of California has different resource provisions, for example soil type, available water, lighting, and temperature ranges. By planning a landscape in a suitable manner, installing effective irrigation methods, and choosing compatible plants, one can attain a balance that suits both the aesthetic wants of the client or landowner, and the resource accessibility of the area.
Xeric landscaping will need an alteration in styles and plant materials. Going "native" in plant choices is regularly thought to be the same with "drought resistant." Native plant establishment is frequently one of the chances or timing. When the seeds contact the soil, what the competition is, whether there are herbivores, and whether enough moisture is present. With these aspects to consider, one should not carry out xeric landscaping without appropriate planning, placement, and plant selection.
Xeriscape landscaping can get many styles. For a number of landscapers, Xeriscape landscaping just mean categorizing plants with related watering conditions together on the landscape. This makes for more economical watering. In my view, this strategy is more of a demonstration of common sense than of true xeriscape landscaping. There is an argument that runs through landscape, which is a challenge to the dominion of lawn grass, that can more identified as examples of xeriscape landscaping. In addition, here lies the expected resistance to the use of xeriscaping plants.
In order to plan an ideal landscape, one should apply various Principles of Xeriscaping. Initially, there is the need to design and plan for water conservation, utility and beauty. You should sketch the borders of your property, patios, garage, driveway, the house, lawn areas, play, walkways, garden beds and utility areas, and trees and shrubs you need to maintain. Put a sheet of tracing paper over your drawing and outline your intended improvements. Establish the problem areas, sun exposure, water requirements, and the function of each region. The greatest plan is a carefully planned map. The second principle is to improve the soil. The basis of any thriving Xeriscape is good soil.
Improving the soil with organic modifications will raise water-holding capacity and make more space for deeper root growth. The supplementation of two to three inches of organic matter plowed into the soil at a depth of at least six inches is enough. In the third principle, you should control turf to practical sizes or select alternatives to turf. By regulating the space you assign to a lawn, you can decrease your water usage and yard care. Consider replacing ground covers or other low water plants in areas where bluegrass is difficult to sustain or establish. Consider growing a low-water turf grass, for instance buffalo grass, the fescue grasses or gramma grasses.
The fourth principle entails watering economically with proper irrigation systems. You should do watering on windless days and if possible, early in the morning. It is excellent to water deeply and not regularly, allowing plants to grow deep root systems. You can use Low-pressure, low angle sprinklers to irrigate turf. Drip, bubbler emitters, or micro-spray is most economical for watering shrubs, trees, flowers and groundcovers. In the fifth principle, choose suitable plants and categorize according to related water needs. By concentrating on low water plants, you will be surprised at the huge selection of beautiful plants that flourish in our semi-arid climate. Use a range of plants of varying colors, textures, and heights to produce interest and beauty.
The sixth principle entails applying mulch to decrease evaporation. Mulches cover the soil and preserve soil moisture, cool the root zone, slow erosion, create a neat appearance and reduce weed growth. You need to apply organic mulches in a layer of three to four inches. Organic mulches decompose and improve the soil texture, but one must replace them. Inorganic mulches like rocks and gravel rarely require replacement and are good in windy spots, but they are likely to keep and radiate heat and may be hard to sustain. Inorganic mulches should be applied in a two to four inch layer on the soil surface. The last principle is proper care. While Xeriscape gardening can decrease maintenance, no1 landscape is maintenance free. The usual and timely performance of certain chores is necessary. Proper planting, weeding, mulching, pruning, irrigation and fertilizing not only reduce on water use, but also ascertain plant health and beauty.
An evident advantage of a xeric landscape is decreasing the amount of water used on your landscape. Conserving water means reducing your water bill, a two for one deal. A truly xeric garden requires very little water. A drip system that wastes little water due to evaporation is helpful for this kind of garden, since the point is to save water. If you are only getting started, new plants require a little more deep watering to assist them become established. Upon establishment plants, require weekly watering during summer months or dry periods to help them thrive. Over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns in North America. Xeriscape can cut landscape water use by 50 - 75%.
Xeriscaping presents other benefits besides reducing water usage. Using plants native to your area will eradicate the need for chemical additions. Adequate nutrients are supplied by healthy organic soil. Moreover, a good Xeriscape can increase property values that are more than offset the cost of installation. In addition, fossil fuel utilization from gas mowers is reduced or eradicated with minimal turf areas. Another benefit is that use of native shrubs, plants and trees offer a different and familiar habitat for local wildlife.
Xeriscape gardening saves money, not only can you lower your water bills, but maintenance costs can be decreased also. By using plants that prefer California's weather and soils, you can cut the expense of substituting poorly adapted plants. Proper plant choice also lowers the number of chemical fertilizers and pesticides required in the landscape. Xeriscape gardens keep their beauty during drought - an established xeriscape garden will endure extended drought when conventional, water-thirsty landscapes will not. A well-planned, installed and sustained Xeriscape can also raise property values up to 15 percent.
Selecting the drought resistance plants is a very important step of xeriscaping your garden. It is essential to select native plants that are already adapted to your area when selecting the plants for xeriscaping. This implies that it is best to choose California native plants for your garden if you live in California. This is because you may incur a substitution or extreme care and adjustments if you select plants that are not adapted to the climate in your area. However, there is a widespread delusion that people have concerning a xeriscaped garden. They often assert that a xerisciped garden is full with sand and rocks, ugly and does not have a lot of color. The reason here is that most people visualize images of ugly-looking desert plants for instance cactus whenever they think about drought-resistance plants.
Consequently, these people mostly do not embrace the method and often prefer to retain their existing lawns without considering the excessive water use. In my opinion, this is just an imagination since there are several nice-looking and colorful native plants in California that can attach bright touch of color to your xerisciped garden. Besides Cactuses, there are shrubs, trees and flowers that are drought-resistant and flourish well in California. Personally, for my yard, I fancy multi-colored flowers and plants that draw local wildlife such as hummingbird and butterflies. For my xeriscaped garden then, I would individually select blue, red pallete and yellow. Regarding the plants, I would select Desert Lavender, Wooly Blue Culrs, Desert Willow, California Mountain Lilac, California Brittlebush, Agave and Western Redbud.
For the Wooly Blue Curls, I was attracted to this plant just by viewing it. I realized that it has very beautiful flowers and had a nice smell. Hummingbirds and other birds frequently use it as their shelter since they love this plant. Wooly Blue Curls grows well in the open, in a sandy loam and dry soil. Only until the roots are fully-grown is when it needs watering. Due to its drought resistance aspect, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California rates it as one of the top ten California-friendly plants. Western Redbud is also a California local shrub that has attractive flowers. Its flowers are purple and beautiful and its leaves are heart shaped. Moreover, bees and hummingbirds like this plant since they feed on its nectar.
It needs only small quantity of water and is tolerant to most type of soil, which necessitate its easy maintenance. California Mountain Lilac and Desert Lavender are the other shrubs that I prefer. Both have delicate smell and striking blue-lavender flowers. Since they like to have a lot of sun and need only a little water after planting them, they are an ideal drought resistant plant. The other plant that I require in my yard is Canyon Prince. It is an average sized evergreen grass with outstanding blue-gray leaves, which renders it one of the most striking drought tolerant grasses. Moreover, it is one of the best liked and adaptable of California's native grasses.
I will form a new xeriscaped garden using the earlier stated plants after taking out the lawn. We can purchase the seeds of the plants from several local stores such as Las Pilitas, El Nativo Nursery and Theodore Payne Society. From Las Pilitas Nursery, we can obtain the seeds of Wooly blue Curls for $9.99 per gallon, California Mountain Lilac, Canyon Prince California Brittlebush and Dessert Willow for $7.99 per gallon, Western Redbud and Agave for $8.99 per gallon, and Desert Lavender for $14.99 per gallon.
Considering the size of my lawn, I require roughly 13 gallons of Western Redbud and California Brittle bush, 14 gallons of Dessert Lavender, Wooly Blue Curls and California Mountain Lilac, 5 gallon of Desert Willow and 8 gallons of Agave and Canyon Prince. I will thus, spend $844.11 for the seeds. Moreover, I would prefer to plaster my soil with pine bark mulch, which will cost me around $150. Additionally, I would require help from a gardener to remove my lawn and set up the new plants, which will cost me around $100. Therefore, I can conclude that the minimum cost to xeriscape my garden is $554.69.
In conclusion, although xeriscaping has a major benefit in reducing water usage, it also helps to reduce the general maintenance of your lawn. For instance, a study conducted in Colorado indicated that people who xeriscape their landscape enjoyed a 2.2 hrs-per-month decrease in landscape maintenance and an extra $206 per annum savings in direct maintenance expenses on top. This represented a savings of approximately a third in total landscape labor and maintenance expenditures, respectively.