One of gardening’s largest recent trends is xeroscaping, the all-natural approach to garden and landscape design. Contrary to popular belief, xeroscaping is not solely focused on water conservation, although reduced watering is often an added benefit.
Many people, when they think of xeroscaping, envision simply plunking a handful of drought-tolerant plants in a rocky hillside and forgetting about them, but while low levels of required maintenance are also a benefit of xeroscape gardens, there is more to it that either of these two components.
Simply put, xeroscaping is using native plants and natural materials to create a garden that adapts perfectly to its environment without coddling or special requirements.
It is a non-invasive way of creating a pleasant outdoor environment, a way to connect with the feel and flavor of your region by living with the land, not on it.
Why use xeroscaping as a design principle? First, there are the obvious benefits mentioned above: low maintenance, since plants are naturally suited to their environment, and low water requirements, since you will not be importing non-native plants that are used to dryer or wetter climates.
Additionally, native plants are disease and pest-resistant to the problems in their native region, generally having built up immunities to diseases and developed strategies for discouraging bugs, while non-native plants often require spraying or systemic fungicide/pesticide application to keep them healthy.
Xeroscaping encourages local growers to buy and raise native plants instead of importing expensive non-native plants that can introduce pests and diseases to an region, potentially threatening the non-adapted native foliage.
It is also an environmentally conscious and spiritually enriching way to approach gardening, since it advocates avoidance of ostentatious, unnatural landscapes and, consequently, taking advantage of the natural harmony of native plants with native soils and conditions.
The basic tenant of xeroscaping states that indigenous vegetation needs to be utilised to produce a appearance that roughly mimics natural surroundings.
For instance, in America’s Pacific Northwest, ferns as well as dense, low-growing shrubs flourish within tall and shady pine forests.
A xeroscape in this particular area could include a backdrop of pines, together with indigenous shrubbery placed in gradations near their bottoms, as well as ferns and other native woody plants employed for accents.
Specific berries – huckleberry, raspberry, thimbleberry, as well as blackberry thrive within the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest.
Introducing these eye-catching and fruitful berry bushes can be a aestheticly pleasing and bountiful touch. Thimbleberries tend to be especially gorgeous plants, with broad, soft maple-like foliage.
However, they are not commonly found in typical nurseries.
Local area farmer’s markets are generally a great spot to locate indigenous flowers and plants, or in the event you have an acquaintance with uncultivated woodlands or pasture who wouldn’t begrudge you a handful of native plants, you might enjoy some results through re-planting.
On the whole naturally grown vegetation, particularly woodland varieties, do not like to be transplanted, and you may have far better success through collecting seeds and germinating them yourself.
Nevertheless, I have from time to time purchased plants which had been dug out of somebody’s field and slapped in a container with very little attempt to conceal the fact – and they have performed wonderfully.
A good way to get ideas for your xeroscape design is to drive to wild or undeveloped areas and look at the countryside, then imitate what you see on a smaller scale.
Note that by smaller I don’t mean smaller plants – in small yards especially, a few large plants and a big boulder are a better choice than a lot of small plants, which make the whole yard look miniature.
Larger yards can support a greater variety, and more mixing of plant types.
If you’re at a park with natural terrain, notice little groupings of nature – a fallen log with moss over it, a tree stump with ferns growing in the rotten center – that you can reproduce in your yard at home for that refreshingly unsculptured look.
Also, as the trend gains momentum, more and more cities have xeroscape projects, usually open to the public, where you can browse for ideas and plant types that are just right for your area.
In today’s world, especially in America, convenience has been deified at the expense of natural beauty everywhere you look.
With a minority of notable exceptions, buildings are square, practical, and depressingly unnatural in color and construction.
Wild nature is disappearing before the onslaught of steel and concrete, and the burgeoning need for nature is finding expression in an increased loosening of structure in landscape designs, epitomized by earth-friendly, user-friendly approaches such as xeroscaping.