Xeriscape, the Art of Water Conserving Landscaping
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Garden centres in countries affected by draught, like Spain for example, are promoting Xeriscaping (or Xeroscaping) in order to motivate people to help save water. This technique of water conserving landscaping doesn’t refer to cactus gardens or those that are all tiled up and plantless. The possibilities of Xeriscaping are plentiful, resulting in lush and flowery garden designs. This concept of gardening has been around since the 80ies in the US. As climate patterns shift, xeriscaping is catching on in other areas and has been very popular here in Spain for the last few years. The term itself derives from the Greek word ‘xeros’, meaning dry, and the word ‘landscape’.
The idea behind Xeriscapes is to create gardens with a rational water use, to avoid any waste of water, especially in Mediterranean and warm temperate climates. Saving water however is not the only objective of Xeriscaping. It also intends to eliminate the amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as petrol-driven machinery to keep the garden in shape. Plus is saves you money and maintenance.
How does it work? When designing the landscape, plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate should be chosen. They don’t necessary have to be all local plants, but they should originate from the same climate. Furthermore, water loss through evaporation and run-off should be avoided.
Examples for common plants used in Western xeriscaping are agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, sedum and thyme, according to Wikipedia. Important factors are how to group plats together when planting, according to their water need and the shelter they give/take from other plants. Instead of the typical lawn that needs a lot of water and maintenance (hence more negative impacts due to the machinery), there are special drought-tolerant turf grasses that can be combined with other, less water needing plants to reduce the lawn area. The most efficient watering system is drip irrigation because no water is lost through evaporation.