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Plant Selection & Design

Example of Xeriscaping - Water Efficient Landscaping

Native & Drought Tolerant Plants

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Water efficient landscaping, or Xeriscaping, uses native plants and grasses that flourish under the normal conditions of your property to produce active, beautiful and easy to maintain landscapes.

Unlike non-native plants, that often require additional irrigation beyond rainfall, native plants are accustomed to our climate and require very little, if any, watering. Only in times of sustained drought will native plants need a brief watering, but usually Mother Nature provides ample water for native plants to flourish.

Xeriscaping can also include plants that, while not native to the area, come from similar climates and are water efficient, with little need for additional watering.

Additional benefits of Xeriscaping include:

  • Less maintenance
  • Tendency to attract birds and beneficial insects.

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Scree Gardens

Picture of a Scree Garden

A Scree is a natural geological formation that occurs at the base of a cliff or slope. It is made up of crushed and broken rock debris caused from the constant movement of the earth's surface.

The weathering and displacement of soil and stone provide new spaces for plants to grow and the availability of new nutrients.

A Scree Garden is constructed using gravel to simulate the same environmental conditions as those that occur in nature. A scree garden can be created out of any elevation, even a flat surface, although it is suggested to alter the elevation to improve drainage, as scree gardens are usually found on steep slopes where water may drain away easily.

Once established, plant selections appropriate for Scree gardening require little watering.

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Groundcovers can serve four valuable functions in your garden:

  1. Soil coverage.
  2. Prevention of soil erosion.
  3. Reduce weed growth.
  4. Alternatives for hard to grow areas.

Groundcovers protect against moisture loss through wind and sun exposure They also provide a green alternative for hard to grow areas. Groundcovers are available in a variety of species, ranging from those that thrive in hot sunny locations, to those that grow best in damp shady areas.

They are generally used when soil or elevation conditions (i.e. slopes, wet soils, heavy shade) make growing traditional garden plants or grasses very difficult. Groundcovers are renowned for their durability and beauty as well as their very low maintenance and water requirements.

Selecting the appropriate groundcover for your soil and climate can bring barren soils to life while requiring little, if any, irrigation. Consult with a local garden representative when selecting groundcovers as some can be aggressive. It is important to select the right groundcover for your landscape to avoid future problems.

If your soil is high in sand or clay content, be sure to amend your soil before planting groundcovers. Often this process can be as simple as adding compost or organic matter to the soil to infuse it with the nutrients necessary for growth.

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Shade Gardening

Shade gardens incorporate a variety of plants that can provide beautiful alternatives to the traditional sun loving gardens most of us are used to.

Shade gardening can also be extremely water efficient if a few simple guidelines are followed:

  • Select the right plants for the right location and climate.
    Selecting plants that are either native to the environment or thrive in the specific conditions of your garden will not only reduce the amount of required maintenance but also reduce the need for manual irrigation.
  • Amend poor quality or low nutrient soil. (Soil Type Assessment)
    Sun loving plant varieties create nutrients through photosynthesis. Plants in shade gardens rely almost exclusively on the soil for their nourishment. Amending your soil with compost or triple mix in early spring ensures your shade garden will have the necessary nutrients it requires for growth.

Remember, because the sun is not directly shining on your shade garden, less water is lost to evaporation. Adding mulch on top of your shade garden's soil can enhance water efficiency even more as it will trap moisture and limit evaporation of exposed soil do to the drying effect of wind.

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