Xeriscaping, pronounced [zeer-i-skey-ping]

Defined as: Landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation.

The main purpose of a xeriscape design is water conservation (on average, a xeriscaped landscape will use up to two thirds less water than a regular lawn type landscape), but it offers a couple of other advantages as well. 

With a reduced size lawn area, or no lawn at all, the maintenance involved is quite minimal and besides saving yourself precious time by not having to do much yard work, it will also save you money in the long run with smaller water bills and less cash spent on maintaining.

Fundamentals of Xeriscaping:

Plants – Choose plants that need minimal attention and can withstand Calgary’s climate. To minimize water usage, group plants together depending on their moisture and light requirements.  Before planting, take note of the different areas in your yard, for example, areas that may be dry and sunny will do best with drought tolerant plants, while areas that may be shaded or at the base of a slope, will do well with moderate water use plants.  To create interest, it’s recommended to choose plants of different colours, heights & textures.

Turf – Lawn usually requires the most water in any landscape.  By limiting the turf areas, you will cut down on water consumption drastically, not to mention a lot less maintenance requirements.  If you don’t want to lose lawn space, then another option is artificial turf, which or course requires no weeding and looks perfect all year round.

Soil – Make sure to use good quality soil when doing any planting.  The goal is to increase fertility, improve water retention and establish deep roots. If planted in heavy clay, it’s possible the rooting may be stunted and the soil may not be able to absorb enough water to support the plants.

Mulch – Adding mulch in beds around plants does wonders! Mulch not only benefits plant growth by nourishing the soil below, but it also holds in water and protects the soil from drying out, which immensely cuts down on watering requirements.  As an added bonus, mulch also helps to discourage weeds from growing through.

Style – Don’t assume that a xeriscape design has to look like a rock garden or desert.  There are so many different hardy, drought tolerant plant varieties available and hardscape elements to play with, so have fun with it and come up with a design that reflects your own style.

While a xeriscape may not be for everyone, it’s definitely an option to keep in mind if you are thinking of designing an eco-friendly landscape or if your goal is to have a low maintenance yard.

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