Water Wise: A water-efficient approach to gardening

We are all aware of the value of our water. Fresh water supply is diminishing worldwide and it’s no different on the Dolphin Coast. Xeriscaping is a conceptual form of gardening that uses drought-tolerant plants and grasses to beautify a home or business. It’s a method of gardening that homeowners everywhere are beginning to adopt as a fuss-free, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional techniques.

Xeriscaping is taken from the Greek word “Xeros”, meaning dry and landscaping. This does not refer to desert, drought or barren landscapes, but rather to gardens with plants that suit the climate, region and conditions where they are planted and therefore do not require additional watering and reduced maintenance.

Try our water-efficient approach to gardening that saves water without sacrificing style .

The goal of Xeriscaping is to build a sustainable garden that helps plants survive dry periods on their own, without heavy reliance on supplemental watering, fertilizer and other maintenance tasks. Here are the key elements that make a Xeriscape garden both successful and beautiful:

1. Get to the root

Shallow-rooted plants are dependent on the gardener for much of their food and water, which is applied to the soil surface. But plants with deep roots are able to find their own sources of nutrients and moisture buried deep in the ground. There are two important ways to help plants develop long roots: add organic matter deep into the soil by digging it in, which helps the plant retain moisture and adds nutrients; and water for lengthy periods less often rather than shorter periods more often so the water can penetrate well into the ground.

2. Conserve water

To help keep moisture in the ground where plants need it, apply mulch, such as chopped leaves, to the soil surface to prevent water evaporation from the drying sun and winds. When watering becomes necessary, the ideal method is a drip irrigation system, to deliver water to the base of the plants where it’s needed.

3. Start them off right

Although plants suitable for Xeriscape gardens are self-sufficient once they’re established, most need some care initially. To ensure their survival, before planting, fill the hole with water and allow it to drain. After planting, water again until the ground is unable to absorb any moisture, but not so much that water pools on the surface. For the first few months after planting, water plants deeply at least once a week.

4. Pick the right plants

Some plants have adapted to dry conditions better than others. These generally include plants with long tap roots that can find buried sources of water; succulents that store moisture in their leaves; and still others with silvery foliage to reflect sunlight, a waxy coating to lock in moisture, or woolly leaves that help conserve moisture.