Seven Principles of Xeriscape - Nipomo, California
Nipomo Community Services District XERISCAPE: What is it? Mediterranean climate, with rain falling in the winter, body of water. The soil really holds on to water and, Seven The “xero” in “xeriscape” comes from the Greek word for dry: xeros and hot, dry summers. In the summer, if you look up to the hills to the east of Nipomo, and out to the native landscape on the Mesa, you can readily see if not careful, overwatering can lead to chlorotic (yellowing) plants. The fertility is excellent.Principles of All of the water the NCSD pumps for delivery to its Xeriscape landscaping is landscaping that what kind of plants can live here without irrigation. customers comes from the groundwater basin under conserves water and protects the environment The majority of native trees and shrubs are the Nipomo Mesa. Other water purveyors and and our water supply from overuse of fertilizers extremely water efficient, and have several inherited Xeriscape private wells also pump water from the groundwater and chemicals (herbicides and insecticides) mechanisms to help them survive during the basin. It is estimated that twice as much water leaching down to the groundwater basin. summer. Some, like the California Buckeye, go is pumped from the basin as can be naturally Xeriscape landscaping can also improve soil, “drought-dormant” (leaves turn brown and fall off) replenished in a year by normal rainfall. Nipomo irrigation and fertility problems confronting many in the summer. Cacti can store water in its “leaves” has had a few years of less-than-average rainfall, Nipomo gardeners. which helps sustain it through the dry months. so the basin has not been replenished at the normal Traditional landscapes may incorporate one or Native grasses are usually bunch grasses, which rate during that time. two of the seven principles of water conservation, sprout and turn green with the rains, and then turns The NCSD is the lead agency for the Santa Maria but they do not utilize the entire concept to brown over the summer. The major shows of lush Intertie Project, in which water from Santa Maria will increase the water efficiency of their landscape. green growth and flowers is in the late winter and be pumped to the Nipomo area. However, there Xeriscape landscaping techniques will save spring, when the hills are often covered with grass will only be enough water to make up for the water you money, reduce the amount of water used and wildflowers. pumped out of the Mesa in excess of what can be to irrigate your plants, decrease the amount of The grass grown in traditional lawns is not suited naturally replenished. chemicals (fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides) for the Nipomo area. It requires so much water, We must adjust to the reality that water (the most applied to the landscape, protect our water supply fertilizer and chemicals that it can cause a great vital resource for life to exist) is not available in from contamination, and create a beautiful, easy- deal of problems for our environment and water unlimited supply. Because the supply is limited, the to-care-for yard for all to enjoy. supply. price for water will be steadily rising in the future as Xeriscape refers to seven horticultural principles Growing lawn in Nipomo is the equivalent of water suppliers have no choice but to pass on to its which help to ensure that landscapes, wherever trying to grow cacti in a Florida swamp: you must customers the costs of obtaining water for delivery they are located, are suited for the demands continually fight the realities of the environment, to its customers. of the local environment and climate. By using which requires a lot of labor, resources and money. Changing a landscape takes a lot of thinking, the Xeriscape principles, landscape options can planning, problem-solving and work. It is not a Soil. In addition, Nipomo has two different types of be identified, homeowners’ creativity and be project to take on in a panic because the water rates soil. expressed, and a sustainable landscape, which suddenly start rising. will not require excess water, can be constructed To the west of the 101 freeway, there is dune sand, with very little organic matter (and, therefore, little By planning now, and installing the new landscape XERISCAPE: What isn’t it? ability to hold water and nutrients). The drainage is now, you will not be placed in a position where you very quickly have to make some hard decisions too good: when water is applied, unless many soil Xeriscape is not “ZERO-scape.” amendments have been incorporated over the years about re-landscaping your property so the water ZERO-scape refers to a near absence of plant to improve the soil, the water runs right through the needed to sustain it will not break your budget. material, such as is seen when a landscape is soil, beyond the reach of most plants. The fertility covered with decorative rock, one tree, and a (the ability of the soil to hold onto nutrients in a way boulder. that plants’ roots can access the nutrient) is very poor largely because of the lack of organic material. XERISCAPE: Why here, why now? To the east of the 101 freeway, there are clay soils Xeriscape is an ideal approach to gardening and of differing densities. Some clay soils are so dense landscaping because it not only is an extremely it visibly swells with water and cracks when dry. The water- and resource-efficient way to garden, but drainage is often very poor and, if not careful, muchNipomo Community Services District it can also help with some of the soil and water of the water applied will run off the soil. This is a 148 S. Wilson Street issues confronting gardeners in Nipomo. waste of money, and it is illegal in San Luis Obispo Nipomo, CA 93444 County for water to run into any system (gutter, Climate. The Nipomo area enjoys a Ph: (805) 929-1133 storm drain) which dumps into a creek or other www.ncsd.ca.gov
than other areas? on different valves so you can time their irrigationTHE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF XERISCAPE. • How much maintenance are you willing to put separately. Most plants will need more frequent irrigation during their first year. After the plants have into the finished product?The term “Xeriscape” refers to seven horticultural become established, cut back on the watering.principles which, when correctly used, can create • How can you design the landscape to be both Remember that during the cooler months, plants doa landscape that is sustainable, does not require water efficient and energy efficient? not need as much water.excessive resources to grow and maintain, and • Are there certain views that you may not wantdoes not harm the native environment. By using to obscure or is there something you would like to 4 . PRACTICAL TURF AREAS: When installing turfthe Xeriscape principles, you can identify landscape screen from view? in your front landscape, keep the turf away from youroptions, express your creativity and, at the same driveway and sidewalk. This will help limit the amount • Do you want to complete the entire landscape attime, be mindful and respectful of our unique desert of overspray that ends up in your street. once or in stages? These are often used in planting beds and otherenvironment. • For more assessment and planning questions, (NOTE: For the NCSD rebate, the turf or lawn small areas. The natural drop of leaves, flowersThe seven principles of Xeriscape are: refer to the Design Survey. removed cannot be replaced with turf or lawn.) and fruit can also be left on the ground as mulch.1. Planning and design Lawn can be considered part of a Xeriscape An inorganic material such as river rock,2. Appropriate plant selection 2. APPROPRIATE PLANT SELECTION: Local landscape plan. Turf grasses require more frequent decomposed granite or crushed rock is also3. Efficient irrigation landscape architects, designers, nurserymen and watering and maintenance than most other landscape considered mulch.4. Practical turf areas water agencies can help assist with plant selection. plants. When designing or evaluating turf areas in5. Soil improvements Xeriscape landscapes need not be cactus and the landscape, consider the difficulty in watering the 7. PROPER LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE:6. Mulches rock gardens. They can be green, cool landscapes proposed area. Long, narrow areas and small, odd- Mowing grass at the proper height conserves full of beautiful plants maintained with water- shaped areas are difficult for any irrigation equipment water. Applying fertilizer to the lawn at the proper7. Proper landscape maintenance efficient practices. Select trees, shrubs and to efficiently water. Try to eliminate long, narrow areas time and in the proper amount can save time, groundcovers based on their adaptability to our and maintain blockier, square areas. effort and money through reduced mowing and1. PLANNING AND DESIGN: If you to take the desert climate. The Central Coast area is blessed watering. Lawns can be replaced by pervious patios, decks,time to develop a complete plan for your yard, you with an abundance of beautiful native plants that shrubs and groundcovers. When properly designed and maintained,will save time and money in the end. come in all shapes and sizes, and serve a variety of purposes from shade to seasonal color, to Xeriscape saves water, time and moneyCreating a water-efficient landscape begins with 5. SOIL IMPROVEMENTS: To increase plant health through reduced plant water needs and lower screening unsightly areas. Many water-efficienta well-thought-out landscape design. Sketch and conserve water, add organic matter to the soil. maintenance requirements. plants have beautiful flowers or interesting forms;your yard with locations of existing structures, these plants will help you to create a colorful, low- In general, as long as over-irrigation is not occurring, All landscapes need some care and most plantstrees, shrubs and grass areas. Next, consider the maintenance yard without exhausting our precious with drought-tolerant plants and our Mediterranean need supplemental water in a region with drylandscape budget, function, maintenance and water resource. climate, fertilizers are not usually necessary, although summers.water requirements. Implementing your landscape good drainage is important.design can be done gradually over several years. Proper pruning techniques can keep your yardMake sure to address the following questions when 3. EFFICIENT IRRIGATION: If you do not have Loosen the soil at planting time and use soil beautiful and natural looking and save paying to an automatically adjusting irrigation controller,designing your new landscape: amendments for turf areas and plants that are water have it hauled away by the trash hauler. adjust your irrigation schedule as the seasons• What type of soil does the site have? thirsty. change. If you water by hand, or when adjusting A well-maintained irrigation system can keep• Which areas are going to have more or less sun your controller, use a hand-held moisture meter to plants healthy and water use low. 6. MULCHES: Use mulch wherever possible. assess the moisture in the soil. Good mulch conserves water, significantly reducing Prudent use of fertilizers will help to avoid The goal of any irrigation system is to give plants moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch can also excessive plant growth, which will reduce water a sufficient amount of water without waste. Drip reduce weed populations, prevents soil compaction use and the need for excessive pruning. When irrigation can be incorporated to achieve water and keeps soil temperatures more moderate. the plant reaches the size you want it to be, back conservation in the landscape. Almost all new off on the water and fertilizer. Mulch is a layer of nonliving material covering the soil plants need regular irrigation to establish, and most surface around plants. Mulches reduce the amount of plants need some kind of irrigation even after they water needed on the landscape because it reduces become mature. The trick is to find out how much evaporation and assists in keeping the soil cool. water your plants require and to apply only that Have questions or need advice? Call much. When you design your irrigation system, put Mulches of organic materials such as bark chips, Celeste at NCSD (929-1133) trees, shrubs, groundcovers and turf areas each wood grindings or compost can improve the water- holding and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil.