Household water use increases dramatically during the summer months when irrigation water is applied to the lawn, garden, and landscape. A Xeriscape-type landscape can reduce outdoor water consumption without sacrificing the quality and beauty of your home environment.
Coined in Colorado in 1980, the word Xeriscape (pronounced Zera-scape) comes from the Greek work Xeros, which means dry. Xeriscaping uses seven principles to achieve water efficiency. Not only is it possible to have a colorful and beautiful landscape while conserving water, but it can become more sustainable while saving you time, energy, and money.
Seven Principles of Water Efficient Landscaping (Xeriscaping)
- Planning and Design: A good design will produce the highest quality landscape at the least possible cost with limited maintenance and water requirements. Begin with a base map, taking advantage of the natural climate conditions in your yard by grouping plants with similar water needs.
- Appropriate Plant Selection: Note areas in your yard that are hot, dry, shady, or damp. Check the watering requirements of your plants. This will help you to place the right plant in the right place.
- Practical Turf Areas: Grass should be grown only in areas where it provides functional benefit. Substitute less water-demanding materials, such as ground covers or mulches, elsewhere. Rock, wood or concrete pathways and patio areas can be added to decrease water use while enhancing your yard, creating interest in the landscape.
- Efficient Irrigation: A well-planned, well-designed, well-timed sprinkler system saves money and reduces water waste. Adding a moisture sensor can save even more money. Adjust the timer on your sprinkler system to compensate for changing weather conditions.
- Soil Improvements: Soils improved with organic matter allow for better water absorption and water-holding capacity. Properly enrich your soils with compost or peat moss. Then stand back to watch your plants thrive and grow!
- Mulching: Mulches cover and cool soil, minimize weed growth, slow erosion, and evaporation and provide landscape interest.
- Good Maintenance: A water-efficient landscape is healthier and uses minimal amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides
Any landscape, whether newly installed or well established, can be made more water efficient by implementing one or more of the seven steps. Each of the seven water-efficient landscaping steps is simply smart gardening. However, the more of them you implement, the more water efficient your landscape becomes.
Xeriscape Demonstration Garden
The Xeriscape Demonstration Garden is a collaborative initiative, between the City of Medicine Hat and Medicine Hat College, to educate local and regional homeowners about alternatives to traditional landscaping while promoting practices that conserve water and protect the environment.
The Garden showcases the simple, seven-step approach to developing a lush yet water-wise landscape.
The seven steps work in any climate. A landscape designed, installed, and managed according to the seven steps uses up to 50 percent less water than a traditional landscape. A well-designed Xeriscape is just as attractive as a traditional landscape.
Visit the information kiosk on the Medicine Hat College grounds at 299 College Drive SE for plant identification and viewing.