Yards That Don't Drink Much
Xeriscaping uses little water and no fertilizers.
Xeriscaping is the term used for growing plants that do well in the region where you live. The unusual word comes from the Greek word xeros, which means dry. Xeriscaping can be used for landscaping anywhere in North America, but it is popular in the Southwest because the climate is hot and dry.
Xeriscaping is great for the environment because it saves water and doesn't require fertilizers or pesticides. Plants native to your area will grow without the need for chemicals that can end up in ground water and pollute drinking water supplies.
Using native plants, shrubs, and trees can also create a wildlife habitat in your own backyard! We planted trumpet vines, which bloom with bright and colorful orange flowers that attract hummingbirds. Mourning doves build their nests in our evergreen trees. This year, we have a nest of newborn chicks living in our trees.
Best part of all this is that I don't have to mow the lawn because we don't have grass! Instead, we have gravel in a variety of colors and sizes. We covered the ground with a fabric before putting down the gravel so that we could keep weeds from growing through. Weeds can steal water from your plants and they are not fun to pick.
We made a garden path with stones and used patio tiles and rocks for decoration. We still have lots of color in our back yard and it looks great, but we don't have to water much.
In New Mexico, we only get about nine inches of rain each year, so the local water authority sets restrictions on watering lawns. Rules are made for how much water can be used from spring through fall, and also what times of day you can water. When I water our yard, I try to water only in the morning or evening because if you water when it's hot in the middle of the day, a lot of the water evaporates.
At my house, we planted lots of trees. Trees are good because the shade helps slow down water evaporation after you’ve watered. Another good tip for xeriscaping is to plant a little bit of tall grass around your trees. This can help retain moisture and you only have to water once, because you're watering the trees and grass at the same time.
Whether you live in a dry place or a wet place, I recommend xeriscaping. It is a great way to save time on yard work while helping the environment. You will have fun learning about native plants while doing something great for the Earth!
PHOTO: Kid Reporter Jacob Schroeder surrounded by plants native to the southwest U.S. (Photo Courtesy Jacob Schroeder)