Lawns are so last century. Give me something exciting. Something with character. Something that won’t cost me an arm and a leg in water bills. Enter the futuristic sounding “Xeriscaping”. Derived from the Greek terms meaning “dry landscaping”, Xeriscaping takes advantage of drought tolerant plants to create yards and gardens suited for their climates. The selection of plants and inorganic elements such as rocks, mulches and soil, focuses on predominantly arid parts of the country.
The first Xeriscape garden was exhibited at the Denver Botanic Gardens in 1986. The Colorado garden followed a set of regulations established as a guideline for design, plant selection and maintenance . Like Boyscouts, Xeriscapers follow a code known as the Seven Principles, which cover everything from soil amendment to irrigation and plant placement. Now also known as “smart-scaping” and “drought-tolerant” landscaping, the shift towards using water retaining vegetation has begun to catch on among developers, designers and those who are simply looking for an alternative to the Ozzie & Harriet Sea of Green.
So, what is all that great about Xeriscaping? Drought tolerant gardens use less imported and ground water, allowing your local water table to provide more H2O for domestic use. Unlike grass, climate-appropriate plants need little care, eliminating a lot of the stress of yard work and the need to cajole your kids into earning their weekly allowance. Animal lovers wag their tails over the fact that native plants attract wildlife and create mini-ecosystems close to home. Possibly best of all, Xeriscaped gardens cost less in upkeep than conventional landscapes because they retain more moisture so require less irrigation. Now that many cities in drought affected states are enacting stricter water use regulations, Xeriscapes may be an attractive and practical answer to our love affair with the lawn.