Saturday, August 1, 2009

Xeriscape Me

Image: A Japanese garden that typifies Xeriscaping. This is an example of a dry creek bed. Photographed by my daughter, Susan, while in San Francisco CA.

Xeriscaping, in simple terms, means planting flora that does not require additional water than the average rainfall in your area.

Average precipitation (in inches) for this area:

Jan (1.1) Feb (0.9) Mar (2.3) Apr (3/3) May (3.7) Jun (4.3) Jul (3.9) Aug (4.3) Sep (3.4) Oct (2.7) Nov (2.3) Dec (1.9)

The average rainfall in Henry County, Illinois is not a lot of water.

In a Xeriscape, new plants may need additional watering. Once established, they should not need watering outside of the natural rainfall (only occasionally during those drought years.)

Typically most annuals require regular watering and aren't Xeriscape plants.

Unless you have bog areas, any plant that requires "needs moist soil" or "water when ground dries" is not a plant for Xeriscape.

You will notice that certain plants are thriving this year due to the excessive amount of rain we've had this year. They are plants that do well with moist soil.

Other plants may be suffering, but, come a drought year and they will be the ones thriving.

The point of Xeriscaping is to have plants that need NO additional watering EVERY year. It's a water conservation choice and it's a desire to do less maintenance (watering, fertilizer, and pest control.)

Some suggestions for your Xeriscaping:
  1. Native Illinois wildflowers, plants and grasses are always good choices.

  2. Sedum and Spurge both thrive with little water or care. Often under appreciated, both species have many great qualities.

  3. Sedum and Spurge come in a large variety of colors (both foliage & flowers), size, and textures. Bloom time can range from late spring and other will be the last flower in the fall. They can be bushes or ground cover. Full sun to semi shade. They also take very little effort to get established. They do not like wet feet.

  4. Dry creek beds and rock gardens are excellent landscape choices.

  5. A small water feature can recycle water but will give the appearance and sound of more moisture in your garden than is actually needed in terms of plants.

  6. The less turf grass you have the more easily you will find Xeriscaping.

  7. Amending the soil with compost helps retain the right amount of moisture and mulch keeps the moisture from escaping.

  8. Have your hardscapes (cement, pavement, stone) all drain to green areas instead of running into storm drains or roadways. There are many designs that can effectively help conserve natural watering and help cut the expense and effort of your watering.

  9. If you are on a property that is already landscaped, start in one area and take it a little at a time to make conservation changes. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

  10. Local and on-line bookstores have many choices for reading that can go more in-depth on design, plants, and maintenance.
A little folklore on rain: If it is raining in the morning and going to rain all day, the birds will come to the feeder in the rain. If it is raining in the morning but will stop, the birds will wait and come to the feeder after it stops raining.

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