#xeriscape

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So currently, my front yard is looking pretty barren. All we have is a cedar tree my dad cut off the lower limbs from because he thought it looked better even though it looks terrible now, and a pecan tree that has been struggling for years. He keeps encouraging me to make some sort of plan for the yard, so I’ve been researching plants that do well in this area. Everything but the smoketree are native to this area, so they will require less water and will grow better. Everything is also a perennial, so there won’t be a need to replace everything each year. This also provides lots of food for native wildlife: the American Beauty Berry will provide food in the cooler months for birds and squirrels, and the Red Yucca, Agastache, and other wildflowers will provide plenty of food for hummingbirds and other pollinators. There will also be little to no actual grass, so there won’t be a need to mow this area, and the low growing flowers and ground cover will provide lots of shelter for native insects and small animals like lizards and frogs. There has been a lot of development in our area lately, and they’ve cleared a lot of land to make room for new houses. It’s been a little sad to see the trees I grew up playing in being cut down, but my bigger concern is making sure the wildlife in the area still has a place to stay safe. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide that, even if we don’t end up following this plan. I have a few other sustainability projects like making a compost bin and installing a rain barrel to hopefully improve soil health and reduce water consumption, making this an overall healthier area for plants and other wildlife, so stay tuned for updates on those :)

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1/7/20 Chihuahuan Desert streetscape It’s great living near a landscape design of mine using mostly native plants. Only the gray shrub Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’ occurs beyond my criteria, “A native plant is a naturally-occurring species found within 1,000 feet elevation / 200 mile radius / same or adjacent ecoregion” of the site.

If this design were in ABQ, 4/7 plants visible are native. Here, 6/7 plants are native.

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This is the narrow strip behind my garage, formerly dust and crabgrass (replaced by chickweed in the winter) that was awkward to mow.

Roughly from front to back, we have: woodland sunflowers; Iris pallida (and again in various spots); echinacea, in bloom; coreopsis, in bloom; a great big spray of either Boltonia (probably; it is a pink cultivar) or the big-leaf aster (which would be really early) next to it; a showy goldenrod that’s really bolted up since it was planted last year; and anise hyssop, in bloom. There are also various nasturtiums that still aren’t that big; rock irises that were the first to bloom; and possibly some other smaller seedlings that I couldn’t reach without getting my side soaked by other plants.

This area is "hellstrip"-like without actually being by the curb, so it's been a bit of an experiment with various native and old cottage favorites. Some starter-sized xeriscaping-friendly plants that seemingly were perfect for the site have completely died off. The Mexican hat coneflowers originally started here but took some time to actually show themselves. There were some pot marigolds last year but if they returned they wouldn't be showy enough at the moment to spot from this distance. More recently, I've trying to get some butterfly weed, California poppies, and annual cockscomb growing here from seed but I can't tell if either was successful yet. Once it's drier I will tread carefully and see if anything less prominent has sprouted.

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Pet peeve

When people use the word “zeroscape” instead of “xeriscape.”

Particularly because there is a joking-kinda word “zeroscape,” which basically means having a landscape with no plants at all--just rock gardens or whatever. And I’m like, “So...did you mean xeriscape but don’t know the correct word? Or do you actually know a lot about landscape design and you really meant ‘zeroscape’?”

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Color, line, form, texture and scale are tools which are used in combinations to adjust design of the landscape. Design principles are the same ones that we have learned in architecture: they include unity, balance, transition, proportion, rhythm, repetition and simplicity. All these principles interact to yield the intended design of the landscape. Landscape design is a multi-disciplinary field, including within its fold mathematics, science, engineering, art, technology, social sciences, politics, history, philosophy. Specifically interesting to me is xeriscape, as it presents an interesting design challenge, to conserve water. I also think the desert is very under appreciated for it’s beauty.