Justin White, Landscaping Lessons l What is Xeriscaping? – Santa Cruz Sentinel
Not to be confused with zero scaping. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that reduces the need for irrigation beyond the water that the natural climate can provide. Xeros, a Greek derivative, means “dry”, so its simple translation is equivalent to “dry landscape”. It is also known as water-efficient landscaping or drought tolerant landscaping. But dry doesn’t have to be boring and boring, a Xeriscape can still be colorful and appealing if carefully planned.
There are several key components to consider when designing a Xeriscape: minimal but effective watering, water efficient plants, native plants, and supporting elements such as artificial turf, mulch, stones, gravel, stone, brick, wood, etc. In addition to choosing certain flowers and plants to be drought tolerant or less irrigated, their placement in your landscape is also important. Grouping and organizing nearby plants that require the same amount of water will make irrigation easier to map and reduce waste.
Unlike traditional style sprinklers, which may just reach the surface of the system and vaporize before entering the base, drip systems can be positioned right where the system needs the most water. Additionally, plants that need low levels of moisture can sit at higher levels, while plants that thirst for more should be planted lower down where they can absorb excess water. Use mulch to give the areas a clean look while also retaining moisture for the surrounding plants. Replace real lawn with artificial grass or add hard landscapes like stone, rocks, wood or gravel to round off the design and mix up the aesthetics.
Artificial grass can often get a bad rap because not only does it appear fake, but it also takes up space in our landfills when removed. Only you can decide which is right for your landscaping, but I’m going to give you something to think about based on a 15 year life cycle and a 1,000 square foot lawn size. A living lawn will use 273,750 gallons of water over a 15 year period. You have to mow your lawn every week, which requires a lawn mower and gas. This also creates emissions into the air and sooner or later the lawnmower will fail and land in the landfill. You need to dispose of your lawn waste. This is usually free, but it takes up space and when decomposed it creates greenhouse gases. When you start comparing the differences, artificial turf can look like a very “green” option.
Xeriscaping has grown in popularity in recent years, especially in states like California, which are prone to periods of drought. Its benefits are plentiful, but its obvious benefit is water conservation. It has been estimated that switching to a Xeriscape can reduce your water usage by more than 50%. When you save water, you save money and time too. Water rates in Santa Cruz are expected to increase over time. Therefore, staying one step ahead of the next drought is a good idea. Xeriscaping requires much less maintenance and native plants require less pesticides or additional fertilization. Finally, plants that are kept in their natural environment should require less human assistance than plants from another climate.
Which plants are best for xeriscaping? Well, that depends on your particular climate, especially in the Santa Cruz County’s subclimates. A good rule of thumb is to look for those that require less water and are known to be drought tolerant. Some options that work well for us here in Santa Cruz are lavender, juniper, agave, ornamental grasses like juncus, seaside daisies (erigeron), yarrow, cactus, and the ever-popular succulent. Even some herbs like sage, thyme, and oregano can be great additions to your xeriscaping garden.
Xeriscaping is not only suitable for desert regions. It can be a financial and economical solution for anyone looking to improve their landscape and save time, money and water!
Justin White is the CEO of K&D Landscaping, headquartered in Watsonville, California, and was named Business of the Year 2020 by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the local chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) on the central coast. He is involved in several nonprofits across the community. For more information on landscaping, outdoor and gardening requirements, contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com.