Xeriscaping the grounds of your Toronto home may not seem like a necessity given our relative abundance of water, however, it is a trend that has been gathering steam over the past few years. Xeriscaping is landscaping to reduce irrigation and water usage. Although commonly believed to only include plants that are associated with dry climates or desert-scapes, Xeriscaping essentially involves the use of plants native to a particular climate to better sustain their ability to grow without the additional use of water. There are seven principles when it comes to Xeriscaping.
Planning and Design
The first thing you must determine before digging your flower beds or buying any plants is the overall plan that you want for your yard. It involves determining where the sun shines strongest, the parts that are in shade, the high-traffic areas, whether you want some hard elements (ie: decks, patios) in your design, etc… Remember that shaded areas will retain water better and also reduce the temperature of your garden.
Soil Analysis and Improvement
An analysis of your soil includes both a visual and chemical analysis. Determining the composition of your soil will help you to better prepare your beds for planting. It will also determine the kind of plants you should choose for different areas of your garden as rarely is there only one type of soil found in a yard.
When it comes to choosing plants for your xeriscape, it’s important to select varieties that are compatible with your soil, environment and design. The right plants will flourish and provide yearly beauty without much effort and with little maintenance.
Use of Turf
Turf is used as an effective ground cover as it retains moisture, lowers surface temperature and provides a good underpadding for feet. However, it does require additional irrigation and does need to be mown so maintenance requirements are higher. The way around these two problems is to reduce the areas of turf in your design and to choose varieties of turf that require less water and less mowing.
As the key to any xeriscape is to reduce the amount of water your garden requires it is important to select a design and the plants that most efficiently use existing water, such as rainfall. While some designs and plants will require occasional irrigation, the overall goal is to minimize this need.
Using mulches in a xeriscape is very important. Aside from its decorative quality, it helps to retain moisture in the soil, which in turn helps roots grow longer and stronger. There are different varieties of mulch including stone mulches, but the best kind are the organic materials as they are less heat absorbent and allow for better airflow to the roots.
The idea behind xeriscaping is to reduce the amount of maintenance a landscape requires. The best way to do this is to discourage new growth, which requires a lot of irrigation. A good way to discourage new growth is to not fertilize as often, to reduce pruning to very light maintenance and to only cut turf when one third of the leaf will be removed. Ensuring that weeds are removed is also important as weeds compete for water in a garden.
Xeriscaping is an effective way of creating low-maintenance and beautiful landscapes that will flourish for years to come.