Xeriscape in Landscape Design

Ayten Ozyavuz1 and Murat Ozyavuz2 1Namik Kemal University 2Namik Kemal University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Landscape Architecture, Tekirdag

Turkey

1. Introduction

The term Xeriscape comes from the Greek word xeros, meaning dry. The concept originated in Denver, Colorado, in the early 1980s. Because of severe drought conditions, Denver had rationed water and prohibited irrigation of lawns and yards. A number of terms describe waterconserving landscaping. Among them are "xeriscaping," "low water use," "droughttolerant," waterwise," and "desert" landscaping. Xeriscaping, a widely promoted term the past several years, is a word of Greek origin with xeros meaning dry, combined with landscaping. Drought-tolerant indicates the ability of a plant to survive on limited water, although these plants usually look better as water is increased. With improper watering, a drought-resistant plant may become a water guzzler in the landscape. As a result, vegetation in yards withered, and Denver landscapers began promoting what they called Xeriscape, a landscaping approach that uses small amounts of water but maintains a traditional look. Since that time the Xeriscape concept has been adopted in many areas of the country experiencing drought or long term dry conditions, and actual Xeriscape practices have evolved differently in various places (Welsh, 2000). The goal of a xeriscape is to create a visually attractive landscape that uses plants selected for their water efficiency. Properly maintained, a xeriscape can easily use less than one-half the water of a traditional landscape. Once established, a xeriscape should require less maintenance than turf landscape. A Xeriscape-type landscape can reduce outdoor water consumption by as much as 50 percent without sacrificing the quality and beauty of your home environment. It is also an environmentally sound landscape, requiring less fertilizer and fewer chemicals. And a Xeriscape-type landscape is low maintenance — saving you time, effort and money. Any landscape, whether newly installed or well established, can be made more water efficient by implementing one or more of the seven steps. You do not have to totally redesign your landscape to save water. Significant water savings can be realized simply by modifying your watering schedule, learning how and when to water, using the most efficient watering methods and learning about the different water needs of plants in your landscape (Wade et al., 2002). In urban areas, about 25 percent of the water supply is used to water landscapes and gardens. In the summer, as much as 60 percent of the water the average household uses may be for landscape maintenance. Many traditional landscapes require large amounts of water, and much of this water isapplied inefficiently (Texas Agricultural Extension Service, 2003).

Benefits of Xeriscape

Saves Water

For most of North America, over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 – 75%.

Less Maintenance

Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal. Watering requirements are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems.

No Fertilizers or Pesticides

Using plants native to your area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements. Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil.

Improves Property Value

A good Xeriscape can raise property values which more than offset the cost of installation. Protect your landscaping investment by drought-proofing it.

Pollution Free

Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas. Small turf areas can be maintained with a reel mower.

Provides Wildlife Habitat

Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife.

2. Xeriscape principles

The seven water-saving principles of Xeriscape landscaping are not new; they have been practiced in the landscape industry for decades. Combining all seven into a comprehensive program of landscape water conservation is what makes Xeriscape landscaping unique. The principles are (Smith and Larson, 2003; Wade et al., 2002; Welsh, 1999; Welsh, 2000);

• Planning and design

• Soil analysis

• Practical turf areas

• Appropriate plant selection

• Efficient irrigation

• Use of mulches

• Appropriate maintenance