Xeriscaping: The Art of Landscape Water Conservation

The word Xeriscape (from the Greek word xeros, meaning dry) was coined by employees at Denver Water, Denver, Colorado’s water department, to describe a landscape design that minimizes water usage. The term has now come to encompass all methods of landscaping geared toward the conservation of water, and is fast becoming an ideal set of methodologies to create sustainable landscapes, especially in arid areas.

What is Xeriscaping?

The art of Xeriscaping uses techniques that reduce or completely eliminate the need for additional water for landscaping by focusing on plants that consume relatively less water. Studies show that about 30 percent of water consumption in the suburbs goes towards outdoor irrigation, and of that, 50 percent is lost to evaporation or run-off before the roots can take up the water. With a 15 percent opportunity to save water, xeriscaping has become a popular landscaping method of modern gardens.

How Can I Implement Xeriscaping in My Garden?

There are a few simple steps any homeowner can take to reduce water consumption in the garden and help the environment.

Efficient design: Implement this step when first planning your landscape and considering plants. Hardscaping and softscaping both lend themselves to water conservation; one by basic design and the other by choice of plants. Grouping plants with similar watering needs is one way to accomplish this. For sloping gardens, plants that use less water can be nearer the top and those with higher water requirements at the bottom so the run-off can help save water when you start watering from the top. These are just two examples, and there are many other ways to accomplish this.

Soil Quality Improvement: Using mulch, compost and manure can help retain water for a longer period, and even increase the amount of water the soil can hold. Any gardening supplies store should be able to help you choose the right options for the specific plants in your landscape. The key is to identify the methods that best suit the lay of your land, sun exposure and type of flora.

Smart Irrigation Systems: You can control these systems intelligently, offering a great opportunity to save water in the long run. Systems that are merely automatic can actually waste a lot of water so if you’re putting one in, make sure it has a microchip controlling the flow of water by weather conditions and other parameters.

Regular Weeding and Pruning: It’s surprising how much water is “stolen” by opportunistic plants. Weeding your garden on a regular basis ensures that your plants get the bulk of the water you feed them. Pruning is another way to conserve water – the smaller the plant, the less water it will use. Besides, it will also aesthetically enhance your private Eden.

Try any or all of these methods and watch your water usage drop drastically. Using the right combination of xeriscaping methods along with regular monitoring can save hundreds of gallons of water every year. And you know what they say: every drop counts.