Here in Texas, but also throughout much of the southern and western United States, communities have been faced with increased demands on existing water supplies. Consequently, there is a greater focus on water conservation, not just in times of drought, but in anticipation of future population growth. Water can no longer be considered a limitless resource. A philosophy of conservation of water through creative landscaping has created the new term, xeriscape.
The term xeriscape (pronounced “zeer-eh-scape”) is derived from the Greek word xeros meaning dry, combined with landscaping, thus xeriscaping. The term was coined by the Front Range Xeriscape Task Force of the Denver Water Department in 1981. The goal of a xeriscape is to create a visually attractive landscape that uses plants selected for their water efficiency.
Xeriscaping does not mean replacing your grass and flowers with rocks and cactus. Rather, it is selecting native plants and grasses that have naturally adapted to the conditions of your climate zone. Properly maintained, a xeriscape can easily use less than one-half the water of a traditional landscape and be both lush and colorful. Once established, a xeriscape should require less maintenance than turf landscape.
The eight fundamentals of water-wise landscaping illustrate the concepts and principles of Xeriscape landscaping and other water-efficient approaches.
- Group plants according to their water needs.
- Use native and low-water-use plants.
- Limit turf areas to those needed for practical uses.
- Use efficient irrigation systems.
- Schedule irrigation wisely.
- Make sure soil is healthy.
- Remember to mulch.
- Provide regular maintenance.
Proper landscaping techniques not only create beautiful landscapes, but also benefit the environment and save water. In addition, attractive, water-efficient, low-maintenance landscapes can increase home values.
Water-efficient landscaping offers many economic and environmental benefits, including:
- Lower water bills from reduced use.
- Conservation of natural resources and preservation of habitat for plants and wildlife.
- Decreased energy use because less pumping and treatment of water is required.
- Reduced home or office heating and cooling costs through the careful placement of trees and plants.
- Reduced runoff of storm water and irrigation water that carries top soils, fertilizers, and pesticides into lakes, rivers and streams.
- Fewer yard trimmings to be managed or landfilled.
- Reduced landscaping labor and maintenance costs.
- Extended life for water resources infra-structure, thus reduced taxpayer costs.
Many Homeowners Associations are starting to relax landscaping restrictions to allow a larger percentage of turf grass to be replaced by xeriscaping. Check with your local water supplier, who may offer rebates for the purchase of drought tolerant plants and trees. In the San Antonio area, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) often offers rebates for water-wise plants.
In short, plan and maintain your landscape with these principles of water efficiency in mind and it will continue to conserve water, as well as be attractive.
Looking for a lawn to start your xeriscaping project? Start your San Antonio area home and land search here.