Xeriscaping means landscaping with water conservation in mind. A xeriscape, or waterwise landscape, will require minimal supplemental water after established.
Now, North Carolina is not an overall dry environment, but we do experience our fair share of dry spells and drought conditions. It is these stressful times that test the drought hardiness of a plant. Thankfully, North Carolina is home to more native plant species than possibly any other state, in fact, North Carolina has more plant species than all of Europe combined. Many of these species are very tolerant of seasonal dry conditions and will usually do better during dry periods than exotic or hybrid species.
The simplest, most efficient rule you can apply when gardening is to pick the right plant for the right spot. This will not only save you money on your water bill, but will allow the plant to thrive to its fullest and most beautiful. Much of this information about native plants can be found in books and magazines, but the staff at your local nursery will know even more about what does well in your particular area of the state. Many of your local nurseries are very knowledgeable in this field.
7 Principles of Xeriscaping
- Planning and Design. Whether you're starting from scratch, or renovating an existing landscape, take the time to plan out your design before you start to plant. Create different water use zones and allocate the water where it will most directly contribute to the beauty and comfort of your home.
- Design Practical Turf Areas. Limit the size of lawn areas and use native grasses as much as possible. Buffalo Grass is an excellent drought-tolerant alternative to thirsty Kentucky Blue Grass.
- Use Appropriate Plants. Use xeric plants for hot, dry south and west facing areas. Use plants that like more moisture along north and east facing slopes and walls. Don't mix plants with high and low watering needs in the same planting area.
- Improve the Soil. Add organic matter in the form of compost whenever you plant. This helps the soil hold extra moisture.
- Use Mulches. By covering the soil's surface with some type of mulch, you help retain valuable soil moisture. Mulching also helps capture rainwater by allowing hard rains to soak into the soil instead of running off into the street and drainage areas.
- Irrigate Efficiently. Don't over-water. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation to water deeply and encourage deep root growth.
- Maintain Your Landscape and Garden Properly. Keep irrigation systems running properly. Avoid the lush, thirsty plant growth that results from over-fertilizing.