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Wednesday, January 09, 2008



Dry-Land Gardener's Handbook, Jennifer Bennett, Firefly Books, Ltd., 2005

In this time of increasing concern regarding our fragile water systems, conservation becomes very important. Incorporating principles of water conservation through creative landscaping is known as xeriscaping.

  1. Planning and design: Have a plan. Become familiar with the topography, exposure, and soil in your garden. Create planting zones and group plants by their needs. Plant in full sun, if plants are tough and drought-tolerant. If less tolerant, give them shade and, for the more delicate plants, select a spot more near water.
  2. Appropriate planting material: For the most part, use plants that thrive in this during low water conditions. This often includes native plants. Also consider designing a succulent garden.
  3. Soil improvement: Incorporate generous amounts of organic matter to improve water penetration and retention in any type of soil. Rich, loose, water-holding soil will encourage good root development which lessens the need for supplemental water.
  4. Mulch: Shredded bark and compost keeps the soil cool, eliminates weed competition, reduces evaporation from the soil surface, and gradually decomposes and feeds the soil.
  5. Lawn: Think about how much water, fertilizer, and gasoline a lawn requires and plan to have less lawn when possible. Take into consideration the purpose of the lawn. If it is primarily a ground cover, there are other options that would be less labor and water intensive.
  6. Efficient watering: In addition to efficient grouping, consider drip irrigation. This system allows control of when and how much water a plant gets and directs the water only to the plants that need it. Soaker hoses are not expensive and are a good choice for watering beds and borders. Base the watering schedule on the plants' needs and not on an arbitrary schedule.
  7. Appropriate maintenance: Watering, weeding, pruning, deadheading, and sensible pest management will all factor into the quality of your garden.

This article provided courtesy of the Fayette County Master Gardeners, Lexington, KY