When you’re visiting a desert city, you’ll notice a different type of landscaping. Lots of cactus, succulents, rocks, and maybe even some native grasses. Why is this? These are all sustainable landscaping options known as xeriscape.
Xeriscaping, or desert-friendly landscaping, uses native, drought-tolerant plants to lower your dependence on water to maintain your landscaping.
What is Xeriscaping?
Desert-friendly landscaping can make it easier to maintain your lawn all around, since areas planted with cacti and other native desert plants don’t need the same care as traditional plants to stay healthy. You’ll save water, reduce lawn maintenance and have a yard you’ll love to spend time in. Follow the principles of xeriscaping to plan your new garden, select the right plants, and use your water wisely.
Plan Your New Lawn
Xeriscaping should always start with planning your new landscape. Using xeriscaping principles doesn’t mean you won’t have any grass. Instead, it might mean that you only use native grasses or you might only install grass in small areas.
When planning your xeriscaped lawn, you have a few things to consider. You’ll want to think about how long you plan to live there, how much you want to spend on landscaping, how you want to use your lawn and how much maintenance you’re willing to do. Think about where you want to put features such as walkways, patios, pergolas, seating areas, fire pits or recirculating water fountains. Divide your new lawn into three zones: a high-maintenance zone that will require regular and frequent watering and perhaps other maintenance, a moderate-maintenance zone that will require less watering and a low-maintenance zone that will rely on natural rainfall for its water needs.
Even when following xeriscaping principles, many homeowners want to reserve a small section of their yard for traditional green grass turf. For example, when we lived in Palm Springs, we had grass on one side of our pool, while the front yard was xeriscaped. Turf provides a place for kids and pets to play, as well as a great place to rest and relax. It prevents erosion and can cool the area around it. You can stick to xeriscaping principles by using a drought-tolerant grass and water it once or twice a week once it’s established. This encourages deeper root growth and higher drought tolerance. Have your Phoenix lawn mowing service cut the grass at the tallest recommended height for its species to promote drought tolerance.
Choose the Right Plants
Most xeriscaping gardeners choose native plants for one simple reason – they’re easy to grow! In a desert climate, native plants will require the least water and maintenance to thrive. Consider how large and fast the plants you choose will grow and how they’ll compete with other plants nearby for water and sunlight. Perennial ground covers are a great replacement for water-hungry perennials and traditional turf grasses. Choose native flowering plants for color and native shrubs or trees for shade.
Use Water Wisely
You’ll need to irrigate your new area well to help it get established. Use a sprinkler system to water high-maintenance areas, such as those where you’re growing a traditional grass lawn. Drip irrigation systems are best for moderate-maintenance areas. Keep in mind that some plants will wilt during the day and recover as temperatures drop in the evening. Wilting plants only need water if the wilting occurs into the evening, and you can water in the late evening or early morning hours.
Maintain Your New Lawn
Mulching can help your new lawn retain moisture while preventing erosion and weed growth. You can use gravel or river rocks to mulch desert yards, but take care using gravel to mulch plants in less arid climates, as it can hold in heat that harms plants. Keep weeds under control and remove plants that aren’t doing well, as both can use up water and nutrients. Larger plants require less water and maintenance, and try to avoid pruning to reduce plants’ water dependence.
Being a homeowner in an arid or desert climate doesn’t mean you can’t have a great yard. You just have to reconsider what you’re looking for. Xeriscaping is a great option to enjoy your outdoor space.