Anacyclus depressus Mt. Atlas Daisy, a dry land ground cover, shown with Hen and Chicks (22708 bytes)

Why Not Xeriscape Next Spring?

By Eileen Price, Colorado State Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Denver County

If summertime finds you wishing for a landscape that demands less time and maintenance, use this winter to plan for a gradual change.

Such a landscape is called "Xeriscape," a now-familiar term to many gardeners. Xeriscape comes from the Greek word for dry, xeros. It doesn't, however, mean using no supplemental water. Fortunately the Xeriscape idea allows for some additional moisture. This means you can grow something nicer than every weed between here and Kansas. And to help you learn about the many landscape possibilities, be sure to sign up for a course at "Xeriscape U".

Some local water and utility departments offer no-charge Xeriscape classes that are becoming more and more popular. By the time I remembered to telephone the Denver Water Department last year, that class was full and I was referred to the Aurora Utility Department's class.

Increasingly, people are interested in modifying their way of gardening. If you want to change, arm yourself with additional reading this winter. A series of five fact sheets on Xeriscaping is available at no charge from local county offices of Colorado State Cooperative Extension. Many water and utility departments also have free brochures. This past year has seen a proliferation of books on water conserving gardening. Check out books from the library or purchase from a book store or the Denver Botanic Gardens.

It might be fun as well as creative to spend a snowy weekend cutting plant pictures from old gardening catalogs. Use them to redesign shrub borders or flower beds for both water and maintenance efficiency. Don't forget to keep in mind more traditional ideas about color, size, texture and shape during this process.

Once your plans are made, you can put garden catalogs or spring trips to the local nursery to good use. And your friends and neighbors will appreciate the effort you put into planning your garden this winter.

Photograph of Anacyclus depressus Mt. Atlas Daisy, a dry land ground cover shown with Hen and Chicks, by Duane Howell.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010