It’s hot in southern California. And dry. So how do you keep that lush, green lawn looking great throughout the year? You water it, and considering each 500 square feet uses about 3,000 gallons of water to keep it from getting thirsty, you pay out a lot of greenbacks! But there is another way to enhance your curb appeal, and still make that great first impression.
Xeriscaping, also known as smart scaping, zeroscaping or planting a water-wise or drought-tolerant garden, has many advantages over the water-loving grass lawn. Not only does “dry-gardening” save money on your water bills, it also saves you time. Natural plantings often require less work and the lush, native, blooming flowers serve as great natural habitats for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals, making your garden vibrant and alive.
Look Before You Leap
A big part of a successful xeriscape garden is having a plan before you plant. Draw a rough outline of your property line and divide it into zones, placing the most water-intense plants nearer the house, and the most xeric plants in areas that are rarely seen.
If you still want to have some turf, don’t use thirsty grasses like Kentucky Blue or Fescue, opt instead for a Buffalo Grass or Blue Grama grass, or use alternate drought-tolerant groundcovers for hillsides or areas that aren’t used very much.
For a great article on how to plan and care for a water-wise garden, as well as “getting started” kits, visit the High Country Gardens website.: http://www.highcountrygardens.com/library/view/article/510/hundreds of choices
When You Go, Go Native
Native California plants—and other varieties endemic to hot, dry climates—are abundant and beautiful. Whether you like perennials, succulents, flowering plants, rushes, grasses or trees, the selection of thriving foliage will impress even the most avid gardener. Some common drought-tolerant plants used in xeriscapes are agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, sedum and thyme, but there are literally hundreds of choices out there.
In fact, if you design your xeriscape with certain features in mind such as food and water sources, places animals can take cover and raise young, and use sustainable organic gardening practices, the National Wildlife Federation will certify the garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx .
More Bang For Your Buck
Save money by checking with your water service provider as certain counties offer rebates and incentives for converting turf to hardscape or water-wise gardens.
Also, a well-tended native garden has great curb appeal and can add to the value of a well kept home. Flowering plants, and interesting hardscapes are just as welcoming as an expansive green lawn. In fact, a recent study in Las Vegas, Nevada showed that homes with xeriscaped lawns actually sold for more than homes of comparable size with traditional landscaping http://www.californiagardens.com/Lists/Drought_Tolerant_List.
For more information about what you can do to improve your home’s curb appeal, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.