As xeriscaping is taking over the Los Angeles area, here we take a look at the principles of this hot gardening trend. The fundamental idea that underlies xeriscape garden designs is water conservation and minimizing maintenance. The goal of these designs is to reduce the amount of water needed while maximizing the use of natural precipitation. There are 7 important principles that serve as the foundation for xeriscaping.
Principle 1 of Xeriscaping: Know Your Space
In order to truly take advantage of your yard the first thing you need to do is understand your space. Note which plots of yard you would like to use. It is helpful to note the areas that get the most sun and shade. Start by paying attention to slopes and slants that will provide runoff after rain. If you are working with a landscaper, you may be asked to monitor things like levels of sun, places where the ground has more moisture, etc.
Principle 2: Soil Improvement
In xeriscaping the best potential soil has two very important qualities, it drains quickly and stores as much water as possible. In order to do this, many yards will need a little bit of help. By increasing the amount of organic material in your soil you can help to keep it aerated so it simultaneously drains and stores. You can use natural compost as an organic additive. Should you choose to use more succulents and cacti you will instead opt for a less airy soil. To be sure your soil has the qualities you are looking for, you can take a sample to most garden centers for testing.
Principle 3: Be Sure to Use the Right Mulch
One of the best ways to achieve good water storage is to use mulch. By covering the surface of your gardens, you can take advantage of the water already in your soil. Be sure to apply a thick layer around plants, using mulches like leaves, thick compost, pine needles, wood chips, bark or even gravel. In addition to aiding in moisture it will also help regulate your soils temperature, help prevent erosion and minimize weed growth.
Principle 4: Pick the Best Plants for Your Needs
The best xeriscaped gardens are ones that use plants that are ideally suited to your region. In Los Angeles you will want to choose drought-resistant plants that are native to the area. Plants that are best in low-precipitation areas will have small leaves that are thick, glossy, or fuzzy,
Principle 5: Limit the Size of Your Yard
By decreasing the amount of space you plan to use as a traditional lawn, you can reduce your need for water and maintenance. Having a small amount of grassy areas is visually pleasing, but keeping it as small as possible you will reduce how much work you will need to keep it beautiful.
Principle 6: Maintain What Your Grow
A well-xeriscaped yard will require very minimal time spent doing maintenance, but they are not maintenance free. Small things like staying on top of weeds and applying additional layers of mulch are key.
Principle 7: Water
Although the ultimate goal is low-water needs, some xeriscaped yards will still need a small amount of irrigation. Soaker hoses and drip-irrigation systems are among the best and most efficient options. Applying water right at the base of the plants minimizes moisture loss through evaporation.
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(all data current as of 5/27/2017)
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