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Xeriscape basics - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Water-Wise Gardening Xeriscape Principles For Western Gardens What is “Xeriscape”? Term coined by Denver Water Board in 1981 “Dry” + “scape” Water conservation through creative landscaping Does it have to look like this?? It can just as easily look like this!! What is “Xeriscape”?

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Water-Wise Gardening

Xeriscape Principles

For Western Gardens

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What is “Xeriscape”?

  • Term coined by Denver Water Board in 1981

  • “Dry” + “scape”

  • Water conservation through creative landscaping

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What is “Xeriscape”?

  • A concept of garden design that conserves water and honors the native Western landscape without sacrificing beauty

  • High water using plants are not banned, but are used in limited areas

  • Plants are grouped according to their needs

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Why xeriscape?

  • Conserve water

  • Fewer weed problems

  • “Sense of Place”: creating landscapes that reflect/blend with the native environment

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Xeriscape Gardening

Excellent choice

for difficult spots

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Seven Principles of Xeriscape

  • Plan and design

  • Reduce turf

  • Use appropriate plants

  • Improve the soil

  • Mulch

  • Efficient irrigation

  • Proper maintenance

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Plan and Design

  • Group plants by their needs

    • water

    • sun

    • salt tolerance (test soil)

  • Create water zones

  • Highest use nearest the house

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Reduce Turf Areas

  • Assess current turf use

    • Pets? Children?

  • Assess ease of maintenance

    • Irrigation patterns

    • Mowing

  • Plan small, accessible areas near the house

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Improve the Soil

  • Get the soil tested

  • Assess drainage

  • Coarse organic amendments

    • Wood chips, bark mulch

  • 3 - 6 yards/1000 square feet

  • Work in as deeply as possible

  • Do it right, do it once

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Use of Mulch

  • Organic vs. Inorganic

  • Attractive

  • Conserves moisture

  • Organic improves soil

  • Dryland plants don’t need as much

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  • Adds contrast: texture and color

Keeps soil cool

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Efficient Irrigation

  • Plan the system to fit, or:

  • Plan the site around the system

  • Most systems are only 65% efficient

  • Use drip or soaker systems where appropriate

  • Time of day is important

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Efficient Irrigation

  • Get an irrigation audit

  • Check heads regularly

  • Use manual setting

  • Check soil and plants to determine water needs

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Regular Maintenance

  • Xeriscape does NOT mean no maintenance!

  • Water is needed for establishment

  • Flowering plants: deadhead

  • Perennials: divide, replace

  • Shrubs: prune as needed

  • Plan for winter interest



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Using Native Plants

  • Selection is limited

  • “Natural” doesn’t require just natives

  • Many other plants are well adapted to our soil and climate conditions

  • High desert natives have a limited color palette

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Using Bulbs

  • Often overlooked as xeric plants

  • Earliest spring color

  • Very easy to grow

  • Like full sun, well-drained soil

  • Dormant in summer

  • Iris also like hot, dry summer conditions

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Spring Flowering Bulbs

  • Utilize winter moisture

  • Beautiful early color

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  • Specialized plants, not for everyone

  • Easy to grow

  • Cannot tolerate excess moisture

  • Do not mulch

  • Handle carefully!

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Add striking color when in bloom

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Many varieties are

hardy in Colorado

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  • Good ground cover plants

    • Ice plant

    • Stone crop

  • Can become invasive

  • Useful for difficult areas

  • Cannot tolerate excess moisture

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Ornamental Grasses

  • Many varieties tolerate dry conditions

  • Add texture, movement, height

  • Winter interest

  • May become invasive

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Ornamental Grasses

  • Subtle color

  • Winter interest

  • Sound

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Wildflower Meadows

  • Mixes available for dryland conditions

  • Require water to establish

  • Require work to maintain

  • Excellent as transition zone to a native landscape

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Xeriscape Gardening

Utilizes subtle contrasts:




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Plant Lists

  • Ground covers:


  • Flowering plants:


  • Trees and shrubs: