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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Monday, December 12, 2011

What is Xeriscaping?

“What is Xeriscaping?” I am glad you asked.  Xeriscaping is the method and idea of designing a landscape to use minimal water.  I like to take it a step further and say they take minimal maintenance as well.  Though we live in Pennsylvania and not the dry, desert climes where this method originated, I think Xeriscaping has a place in our collective conscience.  A landscape designed with Xeriscaping principals requires a little more thought and planning than a normal design.  To quote Martha Sterwert, “It’s a good thing.”
            Site is one of the most important things when designing for minimal water use.  Is the soil wet or dry?;  is it on a hill where there is a lot of wind?;  is there a lot of shade on the site?; how much turf do you really need?  A site analysis of all these factors, and more, helps me (as the designer) determine plant selection.  Porous paving, rain gardens, and rain water harvesting are all important to a green landscape design, but plant selection is the most important by far.  Native plants are best for a landscape that is designed for minimal water and maintenance.  While most native plants from Pennsylvania are deciduous, they can be supplemented by non-invasive, drought resistant plants.  I like to use native plants because they are already suited to Southeastern Pennsylvania’s climate.  They evolved to deal with the amount of rainfall, the average temperature, and the snowfall we receive.  They work with the landscape and are not fighting against it.
            Another issue when xeriscaping is to decide how much lawn does the average family really need.  Does an average family of four really need an acre (or more) of grass to throw the football, play with the dog, or kick the soccer ball around?  I say no.  I know that a well designed landscape plan can provide more and better uses for a majority of the space, all while minimizing the lawn area.  Lawn and turf grass use more resources per square foot than any other type of landscaping, not to mention spending every Saturday for half the year cutting it.  By mitigating and reducing the large expanse of suburban lawns we cut down on the water and resource usage immediately.
            When designing the planting plan, thinking about the different microclimates on the site is very important.  A small residential lot can have microclimates ranging from wet and shady to dry and sunny.  This needs to be taken into account when selecting plants.  I want to place plants that like those types’ climates in the correct space.  Shape, form, color, and texture are all very important elements to consider when grouping plants together for maximum effect. 
            Mulching is very important to the Xeriscaping method.  Whether it is pine straw, compost, or bark, mulch helps soil retain its moisture and helps insulate a plant’s roots.  By mulching we replicate the natural cycle of leaf drop and decomposition in the forest.  It is best to avoid the use of rocks as mulch because they retain heat, do not add organic material back to the soil, and can leach minerals that could change your soil’s pH. 
            Xeriscaping is an important design consideration.  While not for everyone, a well designed landscape using these methods can provide beauty, functionality, and low maintenance.  All it takes is a little design!  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley

1 comment:

  1. You're right! it provides beauty, functionality, and low maintenance which is why it is used by enormous people now a days.