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Thursday, 11 January 2018 20:57

Jan 12, The Xeriscapers Creed; rules to garden by

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Rules to Garden By

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Askyour landscaper if they are xeriscapers. Don't know what this is? Find out about some important questions to ask your gardener to seeif they are in the xeriscaping mindset.

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  • What is the importance of water in the xeriscaped landscape?
  • What kinds of plants would you consider to be drought tolerant?
  • Why is soil so important in designing a xeriscape?
  • What is 'zoning' and why is it important?
  • What is so crucial about drainage?
  • Does it matter about hardscaping?
  • Why do I need to have a xeriscaped and drought tolerant garden?
  • Is earth moving essential? What other things are important in xeriscaping?

So,what is the importance of water? Well, even xeriscaped landscapesneed some moisture. Unless your garden is a moonscape with no plantsat all, the lack of adequate water will create many problems.

Mostxeriscape plants require more water while getting established, andless as they seek out the lower levels of soil where water cansometimes be stored for months, even during very dry spells.

Wateris a most critical ingredient in any garden, and even xeriscapes needmoisture, and a way to remove excess.

It's important to keep in mindthat we are only borrowing the water; protect the quality of it,and make sure it's still pure and uncontaminated when it leaves theproperty.

Ducks need clean pure water too...

Thetypes of plants that do best in a xeriscaped situation are nativeplants, which have the ability to adapt to extremely dry conditions,and are already adapted to the local climate.

They might havecharacteristics like the ability to go dormant during hot spells, toemerge with fresh growth in the fall or after a rainfall.

Succulents,both hardy types and more exotic imports are renowned for theirtraits of water storing tissues, and their knack of shrugging offalmost intolerable neglect, seeming to thrive in spite of drought andlack of water.

Alpine plants also have this knack, and in fact, seemto prefer it.

Choosing the right plants for your climate andsituation is a critical skill; without it, you won't have axeriscape, you'll just have a desert.

Come on in, the water's fine!

Soiltype is an important part of determining drainage, or the lack of it,what types of plants will thrive in it, and most importantly, whatneeds to be done to improve it.

The ideal soil type is gravelly orsandy.

You can always add more organic matter to a soil to improvewater holding qualities, but it's really hard to create the perfectsoil from clay.

If your soil is clay, think carefully about buildingraised beds to garden in rather than trying to improve the clayitself.

Zoningis the grouping of plants with similar needs together.

This createsa mini ecosystem, with all the plants requiring more moisture in onearea, so they can support each other.

It also means that you willhave a lot less work to do; you only need to create one small areawhere the soil is perfectly balanced for these higher maintenanceplants, leaving the rest of the area to be more natural, and lower incare requirements.

A rain garden is the perfect way to have yourcake and eat it too – concentrating higher water plants in an areaclose to the house and where water from the roof will be directed toit is an easy way to have a lush area nearby where you can see itfrom inside the dwelling.

Wildlife and birds, as well as people, appreciate clean uncontaminated water

Contraryto popular belief, drainage is absolutely crucial for many xericplants. They quite often have fleshy roots, as a way of storingwater, with the downside that these roots are also susceptible torotting.

A surefire way to kill them is to permit standing wateraround their base for any length of time.

Make sure that water caneither drain away to lower areas to a pond or bog garden, or the soilshould be rocky and sandy to prevent pooling.

Hardscaping,or the hard surfaces of the landscape are crucial for making yourgarden liveable and usable. Pathways, patios and walls are importantways to direct traffic, retain soil, allow water to drain away andprevent soil erosion.

A perfect blending of planted areas and placesto sit, walk or play will make your garden a pleasurable place to bein all weathers.

Themain reason for tackling a xeriscaped garden is to reduce yourdependency on water that is getting to be in short supply. If yourlandscaper wants to put in irrigation that is wasteful, run quicklyin the other direction.

Thoughtful and wise water use is the primefocus of xeriscaping, not to make it easier to use even more of thisprecious resource.

A Happy Duck, enjoying the peace and serenity

Earthmoving, or terracing, berming and swaling is pretty crucial to getright in the beginning.

Starting with a brand new garden makes iteasy to see where the water needs to be directed to, and creatingthat drainage, interesting level changes, and hardscaping areas.

Anestablished garden is more difficult to get that flow. It'sgenerally not feasible to completely rip out shrubs, lawn and fullgrown trees to redirect water, or build other features.

Quite often,it's a case of fixing an error made in the early stages of design andplanning, such as planting a tree too close to the house, whichlooked cute in the first ten years, but now it's towering over theeaves and causing root damage to the foundation.

Think carefullyahead of time, and always look up – is that cute little tree goingto grow into a monster one day?

Otherthings that are important in xeriscaping are to have the rightmindset.

A xeriscaped garden does not spring fully formed; it'simportant to give it time to mature, and grow into it's space slowly.

There is the tendency to want instant gratification, which lasts foronly a short time until the shrubs that are planted full size, treesthat really are too close together, and other plantings that quicklyoutgrow their space need to be completely renovated.

Xeriscapingtakes into consideration that other dimension, Time.

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Seattle Rockeries creates hardscapes and landscapes using stones, boulders and concrete structures.

Hardscaping creates structures that can be used on slopes and hills to prevent erosion and create water barriers or drainage.