Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Xeriscape Gardening and Central Texas

Wild Dewberry Blooming at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
Xeriscape gardening and Central Texas. The two go hand and hand and are virtually synonymous in this semi-arid climate. Xeriscape is gardening with very little water, or, "dry gardening". Managing water is a mandate in this region with its frequent droughts and Heat Zone 9 temperature range of 90 degrees or higher for more than half the year.

The soil in the "chaparral" is often rock-bound and alkaline with little organic matter and poor water-retention ability. Tons of rocks have to be removed, compost and/or fertilizer added generously and frequent watering applied in order to get any non-native plants to grow. Special irrigation techniques and systems also have to be installed to meet the watering needs of most of the vegetation. Gardening often ends up being something of an onerous chore rather than a pleasure.

I myself prefer to take the easier route of xeriscape gardening and use drought tolerant, heat resistant native plants whenever possible. From lantana to echinacea, salvia, evergreen sumac and cenisa, the many native flowering and non-flowering shrubs and ground covers are the choice plants for any serious landscaping or gardening effort. Appropriate irrigation methods such as infrequent but deep watering and drip irrigation are the most effective in this area.

And what's really great about xeriscape is that it's both eco-friendly and low maintenance, requiring less fertilizer, weed killers or pesticides than ordinary gardening. That adds up to lots of time to just go out there, relax and enjoy your garden.