My Experiences in Xeriscape Gardening

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A Rocky Start

My experience with the low-water, low-maintenance gardening classification called xeriscape started when my basement flooded. I called numerous plumbings who attempted, unsuccessfully, to clear the drain in my basement floor. Finally, the problem was located. The pipelines leading from my house to the city drains were obstructed with tree roots. The roots had actually been growing for a long while and had actually even broken the pipes in locations. The drain medical professionals offered me the bad news– they would have to dig up and replace those pipelines.

They did that, and my pipes was back to normal. Nevertheless, my front backyard was now a mountain of clay and rocks where the backhoe had been digging. There was really little left of my yard. I considered my next steps.

As a relatively current local of Colorado, my gardening attempts approximately this point had actually been less than successful. I tried to grow the things I liked that had done so well in Ohio, like pansies and roses. I didn’t figure in the rains differential. My bad little plants, despite the fact that I watered them frequently, seemed to crisp up and pass away overnight. The lawn, even prior to the plumbings got to it, was more brown than green. I decided to try something new.

I had actually taken a book out of the library about something called xeriscaping. It involved planting things that either were native to the Colorado environment or might endure and even prosper in high-sunlight and low-water conditions. I was influenced to find some of the plants and put them in the wasteland that used to be my yard.

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Things I Wish I Had Understood

Here are a few of the important things I want I had known. For example, the plants in the book were not always available at the garden centers of the huge box stores. If you go there and inquire about xeriscape plants, they will refer you to someone else who will in turn refer you to somebody else. Finally, they will point you in the instructions of plants they call “water wise.” These plants need water to become established however can be watered less typically later on. I found out that the same could be stated of roses or pansies, which hadn’t exercised for me. What I required were plants that were drought tolerant, comfy completely sun, not specific about the richness of the soil and might take the very hot and exceptionally cold temperatures in Colorado. These, I generally bought online.

I began with a pre-planned garden of plants from a provider that concentrates on xeriscaping. It came with a little map that demonstrated how far apart to plant each plant. The plants arrived in little four-inch pots and looked so miserable when I put them in the ground. I could not envision that they would ever fill out to close the huge spaces of space I had actually left in between them.

Now, three years later on, those plants have actually grown enormously and now seem to be muscling each other out of the way like hockey gamers at the goal line. I had no idea that they would ever get so huge. Another thing I didn’t understand, beginning, was that much of these plants will spread their seeds around and little volunteer plants will turn up. The volunteer plants are not a problem. I dig them up and relocate them to other locations of the garden that seem to require expansion. Or, I dig them up and pot them and give them to pals and next-door neighbors. This makes me madly popular among my lazy, non-gardening buddies. They are only too grateful to get plants that need little upkeep yet bloom like merry sunlight all summertime.

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Pruning and Deadheading

When my plants get so huge as to be obnoxious– that is, when I can’t get by them to walk down the sidewalk– I cut them back a little. At first, the concept of cutting them back upset me. Here I was, producing this natural garden with native plants and I was thinking about trimming them? It resembled the perverse practices of tending manicured lawns or cutting shrubs into the shapes of animals. In fact, some plants do better when pruned a bit, specifically in the spring. Artemisia, for example, develops thick, woody stems and gets big. If you do not prune it, artemisia can pass away out in parts and to my mind, looks pretty scraggly. Prune it a little and it grows more strongly.

This leads me to talk about deadheading. The majority of garden enthusiasts do remove the spent blooms from their plants, not just to make them look tidier, however also to motivate more flowers. Roses, aside from the basic, wild ranges that bloom just when a year, are a good example of plants that seem to produce more roses when the dead ones have actually been eliminated. So I do cut the dead blossoms off here and there and I am rewarded with more flowers after a while.

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The Toughest Environment in the Garden

Flowerpot, even in these Colorado dry spell conditions, are popular in my community. Look carefully and you will observe that most of those window boxes are filled with (horrors!) artificial flowers. The factor is basic. Many blooming plants can’t stand the complete sun and low rain circumstance we have here, especially when the plants are suspended up in the air, causing more evaporation and stress to the roots.

I have actually try out a number of kinds of plants and have discovered that portulaca, or moss rose, is the best at making it through and prospering in a flowerpot. These durable little plants bloom prolifically, come in numerous colors and stand up to the heat well. I do water them every day, a lot more than I water any of my other plants. They are, after all, in the most tough environment in the garden.

Recommendations to Xeriscape Newbies

My guidance to a xeriscape rookie is to check out a pre-planned garden for your first effort. The experts at the xeriscape garden shop will present you to plants you may not know, and they seem to have an eye for combining plants that look excellent together. After you see how these plants do, you will have the option of including plants to blend in with the others. This is amazing things, to design a combination of plants with different sizes, sort of foliage and colors of blossoms.

If you will be transforming an established lawn to xeriscaping, you will have a lot of preliminary preparation work in eliminating the sod and turning the soil. Search the intense side. Maybe you will, like me, have a pipes emergency situation and the effort will be done with the plumbing technician’s backhoe.

Though the literature about xeriscape plants generally states they require typical soil, I like to put each plant into a hole in which I’ve included some high quality garden soil or peat moss. It simply offers the plant a good start while it is developing a new root system. I watered the plants relatively frequently in the start, every 2 or 3 days or so. Now that my plants are established, they do fine with watering as soon as a week. I water them less frequently when it rains.

When a year, in the spring, I put fertilizer pellets at the base of each plant. I do include mulch to my garden and in general, this works well to keep the moisture in the soil and to keep the soil from blowing away in wind or removing in a thunderstorm. I have had some problem with bugs of numerous kinds that conceal under the mulch and come out to eat the plants’ leaves during the night.

Because my garden is a natural one, I do not use commercial pesticides to deal with this issue. I utilize diatomaceous earth, a safe, natural product made of ground up fossilized diatoms, which are little single celled sea creatures. It eliminates crawling bugs by interfering with their exoskeletons. You can purchase diatomaceous earth in hardware and home improvement shops. A bag lasts for a very long time and you don’t require to fret about children or pets being hurt by it, unless, of course, you have bugs as family pets.

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Recommended Plants for Xeriscape Gardening

Here are a few of the plants I have in my garden. They are all perennials, suggesting they will live and grow year after year. I hardly ever lose one of these sturdy plants to the harsh winter cold.

Sedum: There are so many ranges of sedum, I typically ponder assembling a garden that includes just this genus of flowering plants. Some sit upright like little bushes and others spread out flat along the ground. All have some kind of flower. They are succulents, so they have chubby, sometimes waxy leaves in which they keep water. Some varieties, such as dragon’s blood sedum, have purple instead of green or gray foliage and stems. Very durable and satisfying.
Perovskia: Beautiful is the word for these. My perovskia (Russian sage) plant is big, full of light purple blossoms and humming with honeybees. The flowers have a great fragrance. The branches of perovskia are both airy and bushy. It makes a charming background to the darker purple Echinacea flowers growing nearby.
Echinacea: Yes, this is the same plant that you will find in commercially available teas and health food supplements. It has dark green leaves and purple daisy flowers. It is also referred to as the coneflower. This plant is another favorite of the bees. Echinacea reseeds itself easily, so you will have lots of little plants to share with pals.
Yarrow: I grow the yellow variation of this plant, though there are a number of varieties in the pink range. My garden has numerous plants with purple flowers, so the yellow yarrow blossoms truly “pop” visually, being across the color wheel from purple. Yarrow is very hardy and flowers a lot. The foliage is feathery and the stalks support flowers up of small blossoms crammed together. The effect is a flower that looks like a velvety cushion. You can dry these flowers and include them in dried flower plans. It is stated to have multiple organic medicinal uses.
Coreopsis: Another yellow one. This is brilliant and sunny and seems simply delighted to be in the garden. It has a little mound of green foliage with long stems topped with yellow flowers. I extremely recommend it.
Rotkugel: This plant was new to me. It is a decorative member of the oregano household and has pink or purple flowers. Bees and butterflies like it. It gets actually huge if it likes its location.
Jupiter’s Beard: This one has stalks sporting blooms comprised of small reddish purple flowers. If you deadhead it, you will more than likely have more flowers in a week or two. Jupiter’s beard is another favorite of the bees and butterflies.
Lavender: Ah, the scent of these flowers! Lavender conjures up romantic images of country homes where our forefathers used this flower as a natural way to scent their linens. I think every gardener eventually succumbs to the impulse to grow lavender, and I have never heard of a single one who was sorry. Naturally, the name of the plant tells you the color of the blooms.
Columbine: This plant is native to Colorado and grows in abundance up in the mountains without any human assistance. It has a fragile seek to it and I think it is more conscious drought and truly hot sun than most of the plants I grow. The flowers are like bells on graceful stalks above the mound of dark green leaves. It can be found in different colors. Think about an area in your garden that receives shade at least part of the day when planting columbine.
Agastache: Likewise referred to as hummingbird mint, agastache is an absolute must in the xeriscape garden. It advises me of perovskia for its routine is big but light and bushy. The flowers are a heavenly lavender color. It is constantly visited by butterflies and bees.

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