Landscaping with minimal water or only the moisture nature provides was dubbed “xeriscaping” a few decades back and the term has caught on. The word comes from combining the Greek word for “dry” and “landscaping.” Thought to have originated with the water-conscious experts at Denver Water, the city’s municipal water provider, the term has seen growing use over the last few drought-burdened seasons. The principles of xeriscape landscaping are principles dear to organic gardeners’ hearts. Soil improvement, mulching and wise planning are all part of the successful xeriscape. Proper watering is key. And the rewards include savings on water bills (or protecting your well’s ground water supply) as well as healthy, rewarding, easy-to- maintain lawns and gardens.
The practice of xeriscaping, a child of the mountain West, is spreading across the suburbs of the Midwest and South as this season’s severe drought challenges gardeners and landscapers across the country. In doing so, it’s also spreading organic gardening practices to those who never saw fit to use them before. Of course, this can only be a good thing for our environment, for our families, and the future of gardening.
Your friendly and concerned Planet Natural blogger will be delving into more on xeriscaping in future posts. And we’ll want to hear — and learn — from you regarding you xeriscaping experiences. Let’s start the discussion with this. One of xeriscaping’s most important principles is choosing the right vegetation for your needs and conditions. In the mountain West, that means dealing with short-growing seasons as well as a surfeit of moisture. This article from the Colorado State University Extension Service lists a variety of ornamentals that are winter hardy and suitable for high-altitude conditions. If you live in mountain country, you’ll recognize some favorites — blanket flower, Oriental poppy, yarrow — and some plants not usually associated with ornamental landscapes — catnip! Of course, different regions of the country have different growing seasons and moisture conditions. What are you growing in your water-saving garden? And what other water-conserving techniques are you using? You know what they say about inquiring minds…