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7 Steps to a xeric, water efficient landscape.
1. Plan a Xeriscape Design. Build a plan so the landscape can be phased as time an money permits. Identify sunny and shady locations. Consider the needs of those people who will use the landscape.
2. Evaluate and improve the soil. Good soil is very important, and soil conditions is one of our most limiting factors in Colorado Springs. A good soil should absorb and retain some water, but should provide good drainage to allow for oxygen to reach the roots. Soil amendments should be tilled into the existing soils when planting. Recommended soil amendments include sphagnum peat moss, partly decomposed wood mulch or humus, or coarse partially decomposed compost. All of these soil amendments are available in our community. Avoid using; 3 way mix/tri mix, top soils, native sedge, and fresh manure.
3. Create practical turf areas of manageable sizes, shapes and appropriate grasses. Turf grass does in fact require more water than xeric shrubs and trees. However, if planted with soil amendments and watered deeply, not as frequently, a turf grass lawn can be sustained during drought conditions. When xeric plants are established they will require less water than turf grass. Turf grass should be limited to areas where it serves a purpose, and unused areas of turf grass should be replaced with xeric plantings. Avoid turf grass on sloped areas where it is hard to water, or low-use, narrow or oddly-shaped areas. Mulches can be used along sidewalks and streets instead of turf grass. Pinon Pine
4. Select plants adapted to our climate and soils, and group them according to water needs. This is the fun part! There are many, many varieties of trees and shrubs that are considered xeric and do very well in our area. We will provide those plants to you along with all the information that you need to complete your xeric oasis. To get to our plants click here and read the plant descriptions to see its water needs. When selecting plants for your xericscape consider the following; water needs, sun and shade, size of area, and flower or fall colors, and don't forget to think of your needs and wants as well. You can choose plants with different heights, flower colors, fall colors, berries, unusual bark, seeds, and beautiful winter forms. WATER DEEPLY AND INFREQUENTLY
5. Water efficiently. Group plants with similar water needs together. Choose an irrigation method (drip system, hose, bubbler, or hand held container). We recommend a system you can control so some plants aren't over watered, and some aren't under watered. It is not recommended an automatic system is used to water trees and shrubs. This is because watering conditions will vary from tree to tree, even if they are just a few feet apart. If you have to use an automatic system reprogram it as the seasons change. Don't let it run if we have had sufficient moisture. If you use a drip system try to water from 9pm to 9am when it is cooler. This will eliminate evaporation and save water allowing more water to reach the roots. It does take some time to get even xeric trees and shrubs to establish. They will need a little more water the first couple of years until they establish their root systems, which makes them so tuff. YOU CAN STILL PLANT THESE TREES DURING A PROLONGED DROUGHT. IT DOESN'T TAKE AS MUCH WATER AS YOU THINK!
6. Use mulches to reduce evaporation. Organic mulch (wood chips) can help trees and shrubs establish and grow in all conditions. Organic mulch helps to provide a buffer between temperature changes. Organic mulch helps to retain moisture as well as retaining weeds. Organic mulch decomposes over time, in turn improving the soil. Mulch around 2" deep and never put mulch against the trunk of a tree or shrub. Decomposing matter against a trunk will do just that, DECOMPOSE! Make the largest ring of mulch that you can. The larger the area you mulch the more you will affect the soil and the roots of that tree. Remember, not deeper, but wider.
7. Maintain according to good horticultural practices. This includes proper fertilization, watering, and weeding. Initially, a xeric plant will need care similar to that of a traditional landscape, but in a year or two they are much more water efficient, and in most cases look as good or better. Apply these 7 steps and enjoy a beautiful landscape that will look good, improve your investment, and conserve our most valuable natural resource.
Last updated on December 31, 2010 by Administrator