How to Xeriscape Your Lawn
Xeriscape is a landscaping technique that uses water-efficient plants. Rather than use water-heavy lawn grass, xeriscaping favors mulches and low water use plants.
Seven Principles of Xeriscaping
- Planning and Design- Surveying the landscape can lead to discovering areas that can be re-planted or re-designed to reduce water use. These areas may include a driveway, sidewalk or patio.
- Soil analysis- It's important to evaluate the water-holding capacity of soil. Adding organic matter, like mulch or compost, to the soil will increase moisture retention.
- Practical turf areas-This doesn't mean eliminating lawns; however, installing smaller patches of lawn and using lower-water use grasses for lawn areas can decrease the amount of water needed.
- Appropriate plant selection-To reduce water usage, you may want to select plants that require less water once they're established.
- Efficient irrigation- Unlike other methods, drip irrigation provides a slow stream of water to the plant's roots. To conserve water, use drip irrigation wherever possible for flowers. Measuring irrigation output can also ensure that areas are getting an appropriate amount of water.
- Use of mulches-Mulch always helps irrigation because it prevents runoff and absorbs water from the ground.
Appropriate maintenance-It's important to maintain the quality of a lawn; however, excess watering and fertilizing can do more harm than good.
Xeriscaping in the Landscape
Although xeriscaping is most commonly used in landscapes and gardens, it can also be used in lawns. Mulch use and plant selection are key aspects of xeriscaping. The type of mulch you decide to use depends on the style and location of the landscape. While wood mulch is used in many temperate, humid areas, rock mulch is used in dry, arid, and desert-like areas.
Xeriscaping is not synonymous with a barren landscape. In fact, plants can thrive in a xeriscape. When choosing plants to use, you'll want to purchase native plants because they require less water. Keep in mind that these plants will differ depending on where you reside. It's also important that you use the "right plant, right place" technique. This means that you will want to plant plants in locations that promote growth. For instance, if a plant does best in direct sunlight, then you will want to plant it in an area that receives abundant sunlight.
In addition to being more sustainable, xeriscaping can also significantly cut down on maintenance. Not only does xeriscaping reduce time spent mowing, but using mulch can also lock in moisture and limit weed growth, reducing time spent watering and digging up weeds.
A Xeriscape-Inspired Lawn
You can convert the lawn to a lower water-use lawn by changing the grass type. For instance, Zoysia, buffaloegrass, and centipede require less water than other popular grass types. You can also reduce the amount of water and chemicals needed for the lawn by practicing good lawn care techniques, including mowing. To increase moisture retention in the soil, you can aerate the lawn once a year, raking compost into the aerated holes.
If you're interested in xeriscaping, a professional lawn care company may be able to help get you started.