Xeriscape: Frequently Asked Questions


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Xeriscape: Frequently Asked Questions

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Xeriscape: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 1. Frequently Asked Questions What is Xeriscape? Xeriscape is a word derived from the combination of a Greek word "Xeros" meaning dry and "scape" from the word "landscape." Its used to describe landscaping with water conservation as a major objective. Our definition of Xeriscape is "an attractive, sustainable landscape that conserves water and is based on sound horticultural practices." How does Xeriscaping differ from conventional landscaping? Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping, not a style of landscaping. It differs from conventional landscaping primarily in the way irrigation water is used in the landscape. By grouping plants with similar water needs together into watering zones, each plant receives the amount of water it needs to be healthy - not too much and not too little. This is the basic hydrozone concept. If plants native to this area are used extensively, the water savings will be greater. Many conventional landscapes are based on the assumption that enough rain will fall over the entire landscape to meet the needs of high water-use plants that are not suited to this area. Xeriscape restricts these higher water-use plants, including bluegrass, to areas where it will serve a purpose. What sort of plants should I use? Not all plants need the same amount of water. This is the basic hydrozone concept. Further, plants should be chosen by their adaptability to the site and their ultimate size, color and texture. Virtually all plants have a place in Xeriscape as long as they are grouped and irrigated with plants that have similar water needs. The Xeriscapes I have seen are rocks with cactus and yucca. Is this it? No. A well-designed Xeriscape is attractive, water efficient and requires less maintenance compared to traditional landscapes that are largely bluegrass. Xeriscape does not require a change in lifestyle and can, in fact, include Kentucky Bluegrass. But I thought all I had to do was get a few “dry” plants and put them in. Plant selection is only one of the seven principles of xeriscape. Yes, if you plant more “dry” plants, your landscape will require less water. All of the principles of Xeriscape are also a part of any good conventional landscape. How much water will I save? How much water you can save depends on your previous water use habits in your landscape. A 25 percent to 50 percent savings in outdoor water use is a reasonable expectation.
  2. 2. What about cost?There is not that much difference between Xeriscape and a good conventionallandscape. The initial costs for Xeriscape will probably be slightly higher,primarily due to the higher cost of plant materials. The savings in irrigation andmaintenance makes it very cost-effective after the first few years.How do I get started?Start with a good plan and do it in stages. Visit the How to Xeriscape section ofour site for more details. Your Xeriscape doesnt have to be completed all atonce. In fact, most landscapes evolve over a period of years. The informationprovided on our site is designed to introduce you to the concept of Xeriscape.