10 July 2010


I've visited quite a few gardening blogs of late and now follow a good sampling of them.  Some locales in the states and Canada are having an inordinate amount of rain while others are experiencing drought.  Since so much of Alberta is considered "desert" (Southern Alberta in particular) I thought it would be a good idea to look at xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is designing your yard and landscaping with water conservation in mind.  Xeriscape, comes from the Greek word “xeros” meaning dry, and “scape” meaning a kind of view or scene.

There are many ways to go about this, from using native plants, to designing with succulents, to doing groupings in your garden according to water requirements.

First, plan to use native and drought-resistant plants, mulch, and appropriate turf.  Remember when planting drought-resistant plants, you still need to water, especially the first year while the plants are getting established and likely during prolonged dry spells.

Reduce lawn.  This I like because I am continually removing sod to plant more shrubs and perennials and such.  Don't get me wrong.  I love grass but just not where I want to plant other things! 

Next check the drainage. Dig a hole and add water, timing how long it takes to drain.  Fill the hole again, timing draining time again.  If water remains after six hours, you must make your soil drain better by adding compost and organic matter.

Select appropriate drought-resistant plants based on their ability to adapt to your climactic zone and soil.  For instance, a plant that loves a sandy soil will not do well in a clay soil.  Check your local nursery for native plants as they will adapt better and are more tolerant of longer periods of drought.  Native plants also offer the benefit of requiring less fertilizer.  The combination of native plants and non-natives that are water-efficient  best achieves a beautiful and low maintenance garden.

Now folks, and I address the inexperienced garden here as I know our wizened gardeners already know this, please remember to water your plants.  It takes at least a year for a plant to settle in thus it will not be drought tolerant its first year or so while its roots take hold.


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