Beautiful Desert Landscaping Saves Water

Beautiful desert landscaping saves water and is not an oxymoron. In areas where rainfall is scarce, Traditional landscaping uses half of all residential water. It is also the single biggest opportunity for water savings. It does not mean to stop watering your landscape or to rock or cement over your existing landscape. The most efficient way to reduce water is to use Xeriscape. Xeriscapes can have up to 50 percent savings in water usage alone. 30 percent less maintenance and labor, 61 percent less fertilizers, 44 percent less fuel and 22 percent less herbicides and pesticides.

Seven Steps to Creating a Beautiful Desert Landscape

Step 1 – Plan and Design for Long-Term Affects
Creating a long-term plan will help you get the most out of your landscape needs. Things to consider: Sun or Shade, Design Preferences, Maintenance, Water Efficiency, and Costs.

Step 2 – Choose Low Water Use Plants
There are thousands of Waterwise native or desert-adapted plants available at local nurseries and from local garden resources. They come in all shapes and sizes and serve a variety of purposes from shade to seasonal color to screening unsightly areas. Many low water use plants have beautiful flowers or interesting forms. The easiest way to see if the plant is water wise, check out its leaves. The smaller the leaf the more water conservative it is.

Step 3 – Make Lawn Areas Appropriate for Personal Use
Lush golf course like turf generally requires more water and maintenance than low water use plants, but sometimes the best option is grass especially when you have children and pets. Small turf areas can be easily added to your plan. Gone should be the days of planting massive lawn areas.

Step 4 – Irrigate Efficiently
In the desert, almost all new plants should be watered regularly to get them established, and most plants will need some kind of regular irrigation. Design your irrigation system so plants with similar watering needs are on the same valve. Water deeply and infrequently, and remember to adjust irrigation seasonally.

Step 5 – Soil Modification Myth
Most water wise and desert adapted plants thrive in their natural environment without added soil amendments and fertilizer. All that is really needed is good drainage and loosening of the soil when planting to encourage plant roots to grow strong. Save the soil amendments and fertilizer for your lawn areas and vegetable/ flower gardens.

Step 6 – Use Mulches
Mulches cover and cool the soil, reduce evaporation, and help to inhibit weed growth and erosion. The most popular in the desert are decomposed granite and crushed rock. Bark chips and wood grindings can be used if they are available in your area. Check with a local tree trimming company to request large quantities or you can buy it in bags at a local nursery. It also will cut down on the number of weeds you will need to remove.

Step 7 – Maintain Your Landscape
All landscapes need some care, and a well-maintained irrigation system will keep plants healthy and water use to a minimum. A well-designed xeriscape landscape will help keep your maintenance to a minimum. For me this means a smaller water bill, less money spent on fertilizers, no mowing and more enjoyment for you and your family.