Xeriscape Principles

Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique that focuses on reducing water consumption and implementing areas of native, drought-tolerant plants to create beautiful and water-efficient outdoor spaces.

It is especially important in Colorado where water conservation is a top priority due to the state's semi-arid climate and limited water resources. Here are some tips and ideas for xeriscaping in Colorado:

  1. Choose the Right Plants: When it comes to xeriscaping, plant selection is critical. Colorado's arid climate and low precipitation make it essential to choose plants that are adapted to the region's conditions. Some popular xeriscape plants for Colorado include hyssop, yarrow, penstemon, coneflower, and lavender.
  2. Use Hardscaping: Use of mulch types like different sizes of decorative rock, boulders, and gravel can add texture and visual interest to a xeriscape design. Using permeable hardscaping materials to add patios, walking paths and seating areas also add another layer of depth to the design and help surface water percolate down into the soil.
  3. Efficient Irrigation: While xeriscaping is designed to reduce water usage, it doesn't mean you should skip irrigation altogether. A well-designed irrigation system can help conserve water and ensure that your xeriscape plants get the moisture they need. Drip irrigation systems minimize water waste by delivering water directly to the base of the plant and is considered the most efficient irrigation method for xeriscaping.
  4. Mulches: The use of organic wood mulches can help retain moisture within the soil and help slow the evaporation rate so that your plants receive as much water as possible. Inorganic mulches, such as granite and rock, can also be used - but avoid black plastic weed barrier, as it will limit the amount of moisture and air that your plants receive.
  5. Reduce Turf Areas: While Kentucky Bluegrass is a popular choice, it is not native to Colorado and requires an incredible amount of water every week. Think of reducing the amount of turf in the landscape, replacing it with a drought tolerant type of sod such as Tahoma 31 or RTF Water Saver turf or fully replacing it with xeriscape plantings, hardscape and mulches.
  6. Amend the Soil: With the predominantly clay soil that exists in Colorado, it is important to add organic matter to improve the quality and drainage quality of the soil. Clay soils hold water and can drown out plantings if too much moisture is added. A sandy soil, on the other hand, leaches moisture quickly. Balance is key to a happy and healthy planting environment, and adding 1-2 inches of compost or planter's mix per 6 inches of soil depth can create a good planting environment.
  7. Consult with a Professional: Not all xeriscape design is created equal. Xeriscape does not equal a sea of river rock and a few plantings, or an overgrown and messy yard that looks dead in the winter. A qualified designer can help you choose the right plants and incorporate winter interest, add different hardscape elements for variety in the landscape, and create a beautiful and sustainable landscape that complements your home and lifestyle.

Xeriscaping is an excellent choice for homeowners in Colorado who want to conserve water, reduce their water bills, and create a beautiful and sustainable landscape. By choosing the right plants, designing for water conservation, incorporating hardscaping elements, and using efficient irrigation, you can create a xeriscape that is functional, visually appealing and helps us to be better caretakers of our changing environment.

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