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Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Fight drought and save BIG money on your water bills with xeriscaping.

XeriscapingDrought tolerant landscape designs 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 xeriscaping are the primary elements dear to organic gardeners’ hearts. Soil improvement, mulching and wise planning are all part of successful xeriscape design. Proper watering is key. And the rewards include savings on water bills (or protecting your well’s groundwater 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 your experiences. Let’s start the discussion with this. One of the most important essentials of a drought tolerant garden is choosing the right plants 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 (link no longer available) 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…

3 Responses to “Drought Tolerant Landscaping”

  1. Dorothy Sher on February 6th, 2018 at 4:58 pm #

    We have two acres that we will need to landscape. It is flat with no trees. We live in NW Oregon. Summers are dry, winters rainy. Not great at gardening. Is there a low maintenance, drought resistant grass that we could plant – maybe only mow twice or three times in the season? I would like a low wavy grass – not a manicured field.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. Mimi on October 31st, 2018 at 9:00 am #

    Hi Dorothy,
    Can’t help you with the grasses, but if you are looking for extremely easy gardening, plant and forget, no watering, at least in spring, bulbs are the way to go.
    Muscari has tiny purple flowers, doesn’t grow very tall, you can plant it in the lawn in fall, and then never do anything with it again, and with a bit of luck it will come up year after year. it goes dormant in summer, and you should not mow it til the leaves have gone yellow. Pollinators love it, so try and get no neonic sprays.. ‘Brent and Becky” don’t and their bulbs are safe, amongst others.
    Then there is crocuses, also short, easy, also replant themselves,pollinators love them, but rodents will eat them, so muscari is a safer bet if you are worried about feeding the squirrels or mice instead of seeing a flower.
    Daffodils are another one, eaten by pretty much nothing. They are not much use to pollinators, unless you plant the species daffodils which the pollinators love ( tenby, wilkomii, etc)
    The advantage to any of these plants is they flower in spring, don’t need water,die off in summer, so they don’t need water then either, and come back next year as long as they aren’t eaten by anything,They can rot in the ground, so you don’t want to plant them in any place that gets flooded in winter, but they do fine in our wet winters and dry summers, which sounds similar to yours. When you plant them, you don’t have to dig at all deep, because most of them are small, and you plant them pointy side up. ( if you are not sure plant them sideways.) Depth to plant is normally listed on the packet.
    Hope this might help give you some gardening joy without a lot of work.

  3. Mimi on October 31st, 2018 at 9:03 am #

    Sorry; by “don’t need water in spring” for the bulbs, i meant they normally get enough water from spring rains, so if you get good spring rains, there is no need for extra watering , at least not where we live.

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