With water shortages and restrictions implemented all over the state, it's always a good time to talk about water-wise gardening. If you've heard the term xeriscaping, it's the same concepts. The term, "xeriscaping" made people think of desert plants with rock mulches so many gardeners didn't think it was for them. But water-wise gardens can be lush and opulent. Check out the design below from Cactus Jack Designs.
All the plants used in this landscape are low water users - well, with the exception of those Boston ferns in front bed - with or without those few ferns, this planting is both lush and welcoming
There are seven principles to a successful water-wise garden
1. Plan - determine where the dry and wet areas of the project are and group the plant material accordingly.
2. Prepare the soil - add organic material to sandy soils so they will retain moisture and add expanded shale (or similar small rock) to clay soils to loosen it and add cracks and crevices for water to run into
3. Plant selection - choose plants that can survive and flourish with natural rainfall. All plants will need additional irrigation at planting and while they are becoming established in their new home. They will also need supplemental irritations during extreme heat and winds. Of course. Native plants will work but so will many that have been cultivated from other areas. You need not worry about a lack of choices.
4. Mulch - bare soil wastes water through evaporation. Mulches conserve water for the plants use. My favorite mulch is native wood chips but you can use hay, rock, seashells, or groundcover plants.
5. Turf areas - lawn grasses are heavy water users. There is a movement to remove lawns but i cant imagine my yard with no lawn. It cools the ground and gives the eye a place to rest as it moves across the landscape. Make sure your sodded areas have a purpose (playing and picnics?) and that they are maintained in a responsible manner.
6. Efficient watering - not all plants need the same amount of watering. Group plants with like irrigation needs together. Like the ferns in the top photo - they would not be a good partner succulents, most palms, or native south Texas plants.
7. Appropriate maintenance - all gardens need care from time to time - pruning, dead-heading, mulching, watering - an hour here and there and you'll have paradise in your own backyard.
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