Xeriscape - San Diego Style
Fundamentals of Xeriscape

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     Xeriscape is water conservation through creative appropriate landscaping and water management. The key words here are creative and appropriate. You can still have almost any garden you like, and still save water. Your garden can be a beautiful oasis, and significantly increase the value of your home, while still saving water.

     The fundamentals of Xeriscaping can be broken down into seven simple steps. More detailed explanations will follow, but for now, the basics are:

1. Planning and Design

     Planning is the most important step to a successful Xeriscape. A throughtful design, can allow you to install you landscape in phases, and avoid costsly mistakes. Many people create their own designs with excellent results. Landscape professionals can be valuable resource, with services ranging from making simple planting suggestions to full-scale design, and construction.

2. Limited Turf Areas

      While lawns are great for play areas, picnics, and pets, often turf can be replaced with other less thirsty materials such as groundcovers, low water use plants, mulches, or hardscape.

3. Efficient Irrigation

      A combination of a sound irrigation design and installation with careful water management will conserve water. Irrigation technology has boomed in the last few years with improved product quality and increased water saving efficiency.

     Turf areas are best watered with sprinklers. Trees, shrubs, flower beds, and groundcovers can be watered efficiently with low volume sprinklers, drip or bubbler emitters. Monitoring and maintaining your irrigation system is the key to saving water and money.

4. Soil Improvments

      Soil Improvement allows for better water penetration, and improved water holding capacity of the soil. Organic matter and other amendments also provide beneficial nutrients to plants. It is best to test soil to determine the correct amendments and amounts needed. Improve the soil prior to planting and installation of an irrigation system. Contact the University Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor or your local nursery proffessional for more information about soil testing and amending.

5. Mulches

      Mulches cover and colol the soil, reduce weed growth, slow erosion and most importantly, minimize evaporation. The textures and materials also provide landscape interest. Organic mulches include shrredded bark or chips, wood grinding, or combost. Inorganic mulches are usually rock or gravel products.

6. Low Water Use Plants

      There is a large selection of water efficient plants available in San Diego County. Many popular landscape plants are a lot more drought loerant than you;d imagine. Nearly ever landscape function can be served with a low water use plant..Year Round greenery, bright flowers, borders or accents - all can be achieved efficiently and attractively. Some nurseries tag their low water use plants for wasy selection.

7. Sound Maintenance

      Regular maintenance preserves the intended beauty of your landscape and saves water. Pruning, weeding, prper fertilization, pest control and water scheule adjustments contribute to water savings. Because of their design, xeriscapes result in reduced maintenance cost and time.

     Following just one or two of these principles can result in improved plant health and a noticeable reduction in water use. Follow all the steps and your savings will be truly substantial. Read on to learn more of the basics, and refer to the resource list on page to obtain more information on specific details.
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This is a reprint of an article originally printed in Xeriscapes - San Diego Style 1990