November & December Timely Terms (14842 bytes)

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XERISCAPE, a timely term for all year

Xeriscape (Pronounced zee-ra-scape) is water-efficient gardening. It is a way of creating a beautiful landscape by working with, not fighting against, our natural environment. Many of the seven basic principles of xeriscape have already been described in this handbook because they are also the basics of successful gardening in our area.

  • Plan first. Think about views you want to maintain--or block--and how you like to use your yard. Pay attention to microclimates.
  • Limit amount of turf and consider alternatives. Rethink how much lawn you need and where you need it. Slopes; small, hard-to-mow patches; shady spots; and hot, dry areas may be easier to maintain with shrubs or ground covers. Buffalograss and blue grama grass are less-thirsty alternatives to Kentucky bluegrass.
  • Mulch. Mulches cover the soil and cool it, minimizing evaporation, slowing erosion, and reducing weed growth.
  • Group together plants with similar water needs and select more drought-tolerant plants. Zoning plants according to water needs allows more efficient watering. It can also mean healthier plants because they receive exactly the right amount of water. Many local garden centers now have xeriscape plant sections, and you may be surprised at the number and variety of flowers, trees, and shrubs with low water needs. CSU Fact sheets 7.228, 7.229, 7.230, 7.231, 7.234.
  • Improve the soil. Organic amendments help the soil get water, air, and nutrients to the plants.
  • Irrigate Efficiently. Water lawn separately. Trees, shrubs, and other ornamental plants generally require much less frequent watering than lawns; and,can be watered efficiently with drip-emitters or soaker hoses.
  • Maintain properly. A well-planned xeriscape require less maintenance once it is established. Follow the suggestions for lawn and garden maintenance in Down to Earth in Denver all through the year.

Xeriscape Colorado is an excellent source of Xeriscape information. Denver Water’s Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at 1600 West 12th Avenue is a good place to see xeriscape principles in action; Denver Botanic Gardens xeriscape garden, just south of the conservatory building, is another.

For more information see Xeriscape

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CSU/Denver County  Extension Master Gardener 2010
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Date last revised: 01/05/2010