Sustainable or xeriscape landscaping?

Blooming_annie(z 8/9, Chas, SC)May 14, 2008

Hello everyone. Are you making moves towards sustainable landscaping or xeriscaping or greenscaping or some other environmentally sensitve gardening practice? I hate the whole grass thing and so am changing some things myself. I've done a lot of web research but so much of what is written is for different climates than ours. I know the principles are the same but the plants sure aren't! I'd love to hear about your experiences and goals and experiments if you are going in that direction.

Currently, I'm redoing my front yard with these goals in mind: 1) reduce the area of high-maintenance lawn, 2)use a buffer zone of planted areas near hardscape to reduce runoff, 3) use more drought-tolerant plants, 4) cluster the thirsty plants together 5)put in some food sources for the birds and maybe for me 5)put in more shade trees and 6) do it cheaply! I already love the effect and have only just gotten started.

I used to spend a lot of time on Gardenweb and, of course, gardening, but kind of got away from both for awhile. I'm just now getting back into it and have really been inspired reading all of your posts.

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Welcome back! I can give you a brief idea of what we're doing.

Grass: We're doing as much as our HOA covenants will allow. We have to keep our front meadow mowed under 9". However, we don't do anything else to watering, no fertilizing. It's on its own.

Runoff/thirsty plants: We have a slope down to our house where we route the water and the downspouts to a dry stream bed. We have planted moisture-loving plants in that low area that also can withstand our heat/drought with minimal drip irrigation. We don't use any sprinkler systems. On the slope, we converted it from spotty grass to a big flower garden. This holds the soil in place and slows down the runoff from the meadow. All plants up on the slope are drought and deer tolerant and receive no irrigation. We water new plants only long enough to get them established.

Birds/butterflies: We have both a NWF Certified Backyard Habitat and a Monarch Butterfly Waystation certification. We have planted to feed/attract both birds and butterflies. We also provide a water source (manmade stream) that the birds use for drinking and bathing. It also attracts dragonflies and frogs.

Shade trees: due to the HOA covenants, we've not been allowed to plant up the south side with trees. That said, our house is passive solar by design and placement.

Cheaply: we DIY as much as possible, including building patios, dry stream bed, irrigation, paths, etc.

Additionally, I use only organic fertilizers.

I have written many blog entries over the last year regarding deer, drought, butterflies, etc.


Here is a link that might be useful: gardening blog

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Because you are near the beach and really have very different gardening needs than most of the Carolinas, I would ask this question on the coastal gardening forum too.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 7:53PM
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Sounds like you both have made great progress and have good ideas on moving forward.

When you say you are planting to attract/feed birds, don't forget that birds need insects during the nesting season. There is a great book out just in the last year that discusses the topic of using native plants for the purpose of attracting NATIVE insects for birds to eat.

Here is a link that might be useful: Previous thread on this book on the natives forum

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 7:35AM
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Look around at the natives that are doing well in your area and collect seeds and cuttings. I know it's starting from scratch but such plants will often grow surprisingly fast.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:52AM
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Blooming_annie(z 8/9, Chas, SC)

Your blog is wonderful, Cameron. I spent a few minutes on it and will go back when I have more time.

Bumblebeez, thanks for noting that growing conditions are pretty different here because they sure are. I didn't even think of posting to the Coastal forum which is ironic since I initiated that forum through Spike years ago. I'll give it a try again.

When I moved into this house 8 years ago the yard was practically a desert - no plants, mowed weeds, no animal life, not even insects. I was thrilled when frogs started showing up! It has come a long way but has a long way to go in terms of attracting wildlife. I may need to get some tithonia and milkweed going for the monarchs. I've grown both in the past and love them. My bronze fennel is party-central for the swallowtails every year. It is astounding to watch the plants shrink and the caterpillars grow at warp speed!

By biggest push though, is to have less grass and more 'pretties' while also reducing the amount of chemicals and water used AND having a landscape that is harmonious with the yards around me. So my plan is to have a smallish circle of grass in the center of my front yard with a mannerly border all the way around it. I'm going to keep the border low and symmetrical across the front so that my house won't be hidden and go a little taller along the side street for privacy. I'll post pics if I get a chance. And would love to see yours as well!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 10:02AM
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