All of you have xeriscape Gardens?

alberto1444(z8b)March 6, 2003

mar 06 03

Dear Fellow Terrans,

How many of your neighbors have low water gardens? How many don't care about their solid lawns. Are you a minority or conscious person? Don't you just hate that. I do. What do you all think. our green heritage is going up in smoke literally in

Mexico, ..anyway and The U.S.



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Dswan(z6 UT)

We have a couple people in the neighborhood using xeriscape principles. However, by city code, we are required to maintain a certain amount of lawn in our front yard. I do have a couple of large xeriscape flower beds surrounding just enough lawn to keep me in code.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2003 at 2:28PM
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"by city code, we are required to maintain a certain amount of lawn in our front yard"

Considering the water situation, that's a really stupid bit of code.

I'm in the minority in my neighborhood ... almost everyone has full front and back bermuda, with the added insult of using annual rye to keeplawns green in the winter.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2003 at 6:21PM
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harleylady(PNW/USDA 8b/Sunset 6)

I live in BC, MX and at the price we pay to have water trucked in, nobody has a lawn. El Dorado Ranch Resort is propagating a salt-tolerant turf grass (the name escapes me at the moment) for their golf course that will be watered with partially desalinated water from the Sea of Cortez.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2003 at 12:14AM
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Dear friends,
I was afraid of that. Nature sure got a short straw with us. Our 1999 next generation seems to be on the right track, but they're far from perfect. We are just not conscious enough about our wild neighbors.
It was nice to hear from gardenweb friends

Thanks guys,

    Bookmark   March 10, 2003 at 1:50PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

Lazygardens, you are right, but here in Utah there is this entrenched idea of "making the desert bloom." Unfortunately, blooming wild xeric flowers is not what they have in mind. It's creating a lawn dominated landscape. I've minimized the lawn I've got, but I do perceive the neighbors think I'm a bit odd.

Interestingly, a neighbor of mine has complained to other neighbors about the number of bees I have in my yard. I take pride in the fact that I provide habitat for valuable pollinators but this "dough head" thinks I'm endangering the neighborhood children. In six years living in this location, I have never been stung while my little girl has been stung once when a bee got caught in between her jacket and her shirt.

I can't wait till she sends a letter to the city complaining about my irresponsible landscaping. She's already complained about the condition of and lack of lawn in my yard.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2003 at 1:09PM
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animas(z5-SW Colo)

I live in a townhouse complex. It's the exact opposite of inappropriate bluegrass and waterhog plants. The builder/homeowners board decided that homeowners should be relieved of yard duties and they installed yards of weed fabric underneath same-sized, same-color round river rock or lava rock. I call it Zero-scape. It's so damn boring and lazy! Apparently, the board wanted antlike conformity. The worst is round, grey riverrock lining the borders every sidewalk, every driveway, even around a puny raised bed. There's nothing to breakup the hardscaped lines. Ugh! My goal this year is to take a tiny patch of land around a trash dumpster common area, pull out the rocks and plant the most industrial-strength but lush plants around: all kinds of Penstemons, hardy broom, blue-mist spirea, russian sage, small bulbs, artemesia, santolina, blanketflower, blue and golden flax, agastache (hummingbird mint), various yuccas, rabbitbrush, lavendar, evergreen curl-leaf mountain mahogany. Good grief... there are so many drought-loving beautiful plants available. They take so little work once established. An expense of blue grama grass would do great! There is absolutely no reason for rock and gravel crappy yards. There... thanks for letting me vent.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2003 at 12:11PM
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canna_jan(z9 NCal, 15 Sun)

I'm in a fairly new neighborhood, 4 years old, and the builder did the wall to wall grass thing in every front yard with 1 token tree stuck in the middle. My lot is on the corner and we just shocked the neighborhood by removing the last 2,000 sq ft of lawn. We've been carving it out a bit at a time over the last few years. A few of the neighbors are supportive, but most are giving us odd looks.

Pay back time comes in the fall when our city converts to metered water charging. Up until now every household pays a set fee for water which is not based on their usage. It would be nice if folks could be more conscious on their own . . . but if it takes hitting them in the pocket book to get their attention I'm all for it.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2003 at 12:24PM
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We live in an older neighborhood by San Diego standards and there are more yards without lawns than with. I like it, but my husband doesn't, however he does no yardwork, so he doesn't get any say in the matter! We have .6 acres with nary a blade of grass and I think it's just fine. It's a pretty fancy neighborhood, too. I wouldn't call the current landscaping "xeric", but I have plans. The backyard is eucalyptus, natives, and iceplant, but the front has conventional irrigation and a bland mix of raphiolepsis and other standard hedge plants. The raphiolepsis hedge is slated for demolition next month and replacement with a xeric mixed border.

By repairing a plumbing leak after we moved in, installing new toilets and shower heads, and cutting way back on irrigation, I've reduced our water use by 83%!!! Amazingly the mature landscaping looks no different with weekly watering than it did with daily watering.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2003 at 6:57PM
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I call it Zero-scape Oh, I hate that! Gives the real thing a bad name. Fortunately I live in an area that encourages xeriscaping by providing tax breaks, as well as being a model by using it in street medians and along sidewalks. Our neighborhood is pretty much xeriscaped with a few exceptions. Go a bit to the north tho, and you'll see row after row of red tiled roofs with green grass. Usually these new developments are HOA with rules about lawns. Yikes.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2003 at 12:25PM
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jwalexa(Z7 TN)

My wife and I purchased our home here in SA in April. The previous owners were "xeriscaping". I say xeriscaping because they put in one or two drought tolerant bushes and then proceeded to put a two inch layer of mulch over the remaining half acre yard. It gave me a very bad impression of what xeriscaping was really about. The bushes they put in weren't touched in the 5 years since they planted them so I whacked them down. I have to have some grass so I planted sahara bermuda in the back yard. From what I've read it is the most drought tolerant. I make sure every plant I purchase is drought tolerant also. I'm learning that xeriscaping can lead to an attractive yard without the need for constant watering.

I grew up on a farm in WV and I have to have a small vegtable garden. I'm learning as much as possible about the best watering techniques before planting next spring.

Our HOA requires we have a large percentage of you front lawn in grass. I'm trying to convince my neighbor to convert our front lawns to bermuda from the St. Augustine we currently have.

Our water company gives up to a $500 rebate for xeriscaped yards but the rules are so strict I won't qualify.

So much for my rambling on....Happy xeriscaping everyone and happy 4th.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2003 at 9:26AM
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Xtal(z8b Temple. TX)

Here in Central Texas, planting drought tolerant is the only thing that makes sense if I don't want to spend my summers watering. I did manage to get rid of my lawn on one side. It was too small to get the lawmower in there with ease. So, I covered it up with a native landscapers mix which cover the grass and weeds. Now, I'm just pulling it back and planting, then pushing the mix back up around it. It has some composted sewer sludge along with bark mulch. So, it benefits my plantings while keeping their roots from drying up so quickly. With 100 degree heat, I'm already out there enough trying to get new roots established.

I just wish I had more access to some of the high country natives that are D.T. Next year, I'm sure that I'll appreciate all the work next year.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2003 at 2:21AM
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The world over suffers from lack of clean water. Down here the water companies do not even consider water for gardens when they calculate the water needs of a household. We have water problems every dry season but most people do not think to much about how to cutdown on water consumption in gardens. Me, I got tired of seeing my water loving plants suffer in the dry season so I have switched, for the most part to plants that can standup to 5 months with no rain and only an ocasional watering. My Zoysia lawn can go brown but it greens up with the first rain. My Pereskia cactus hedge drops its leaves but still keeps unwanted visitors out in summer. Most of my palms seem to be happy and all of my Bromelliads are the hardy tough ones that only need a light watering now and then. They will even start to shrivel but perk back up with the rain. People think that the tropics means rain, rain, rain but that is far from the truth in most of the world tropics. There is usually a long dry season that regulates what we can grow.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2003 at 4:28PM
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The best hope is that the schools will turn the young people around to thinking xeriscape. I've seen some people plant some xeriscape plants, then go on watering the way they did before. Higher water rates do make people take notice sometimes, but of course it really hurts those with low income the most. I'd hate to see poor people not able to afford to bathe often enough, wash clothes, dishes, etc. One thing I really hate to see is yards with areas covered with rock, but put in wrong. Putting thin plastic under rock or gravel is a recipe for disaster. Pretty soon weeds and Bermuda grass take over, and it's a real pain to remove all that rock or gravel. In front of my house, the former owners did something even worse. They wanted to be able to drive vehicles inside the fenced yard, so they put in a sizeable strip of yard with gravel and nothing to deter the weeds. The weeds were horrendous! Little by little I've got almost all of it converted to Buffalo grass, flowerbeds and trees surrounded by mulch. But I had to leave much of the gravel in place underneath all that, as I couldn't afford to pay someone come in and remove it, and there was tons of gravel.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 9:23PM
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jkw7aj(z8a (Sunset 5))

There are very, very few yards in my area with grass. The ones that do have it tend to use it as a natural edger to keep bark mulch out of the street and off the sidewalk. The vast majority of the yards around here are pretty informally landscaped with natives or well-established (no need for watering) shrubs and trees. The exception is all the rhododendrons (which don't tolerate the least bit of drought) but I never see anyone out watering, so there must be a few irrigation systems installed. Everything not planted is barked. And I mean everything.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2004 at 9:43PM
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Oh we have Zeroscape here, put in by folks who think that all xeriscape means is a ton or so of gravel. But it seems many in our community (a suburb of Phoenix) do indeed understand the term, and are putting in native or drought tolerant plants and shrubs. I have seen some really lovely looking displays that provide shade and color without wasting water.

I love our yard that the previous owner set up. He established circlar brick 'wells' where he planted trees. Along the walls of the yard he set up beds for annuals and perennials, and planted cats claw that have covered the grey walls. The ground itself is covered with gravel, but there is so much shade from the mature trees and year round color and green that the gravel is all background. The front yard is filled with different kinds of cacti and succulents. We don't miss grass, that's for sure. My one complaint is that a few of the trees he put in were his favorites and they are not appropriate - Chinese Elm and Jacarunda. They are gorgeous and I'd never cut them down, but they do use up more water then I like.

We do have a community near us which is all Home Owner Association regulated, and for years have insisted that the home owners plant grass and non native trees. That has slowly been changing, thank goodness, but not fast enough for my taste!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 6:50AM
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sequoia54(z6a MA)

Several years ago I planted a "drought garden" in the far corner of the yard, where winter salt and snow, heat, sun, and drought had fried the lawn grass. It was experimental rather than a showpiece, but was "coming along." Then last fall the town re-constructed the street intersection nearby, and as the garden fell within their "easement," it was history. The end result is now an INCREASED planting area (they actually limited incoming traffic to a single lane, rerouting the outgoing to the other side of an island!), which had grass seed sprayed at it (but most vegetation is weeds at present).

Have NO intention of permanently maintaining grass in that area, of course. What I do plan is a new xeriscape area--mulched with about 3 inches of gravel, as that is recommended for many of the plants I'll be growing. First 18 inches in will be largely UNplanted (road salt Death Zone), and I plan to lay down a groundcloth/weedbarrier beneath THAT gravel. What do people think about the rest of the planting area, for weed control under the gravel? I've found weedbarriers kind of a pain in places where I plant--after a year or so I start hitting it with the shovel (because I am always editing) and pieces are torn off. So I was hoping to forego it elsewhere. I am prepared to do diligent vegetation removal and weeding beforehand and continue it while the plants are growing to full size. Now that there is a curbing, I hope fewer weed seeds and weedy dirt will be washed into the garden, and that the gravel mulch will eventually help to minimize weeds. I'd appreciate other gardeners' ideas and experience with this type of planting. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 12:03PM
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flowersandthings(MidAtlantic 6/7)

We really don't need xeriscape and rarely do we need supplemental water...... but this year we may have had too much water!!!!..... :) That being said I do have one silly neighbor whose sprinkler goes off even when its raining..... I guess they forgot to reset it.... stupid..... :)

    Bookmark   September 15, 2004 at 7:02PM
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"The world over suffers from lack of clean water"

I agree :) over here most of the country has been in drought for the last few years (in a country that is already very dry to begin with.) drought tolerant plants are definitely in!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2004 at 1:54AM
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We just moved to the high Mojave Desert, Inyokern California, zone 8a. 2 1/2 acres with NOTHING ever grown on it, only native desert plants including Cresote, sage, and a few raggedy cactus in the yard. We've cleared about half of it, planting only drought-tolerant plants and some cactus transplants from San Fernando Valley which I am still waiting to see if can take the cold in the winter. We have a full vegetable garden in, with water-saving techniques. A SMALL lawn will go in under the Mesquite tree, but mostly herbs and succulents (in part shade) and only a few needy water plants. We love it!! You DON'T need grass!!! So much more interesting stuff is out there!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 3:50PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

We've had more dry years than wet years since owning our cottage in the San Francisco Bay Area. The soil is heavy gray adobe clay.

We had it dug out about 8" down after killing off the Bermudagrass and yanking out the contorted junipers and nandina that the PO had put in. Those were the "low maintenance" shrubs du jour of the '50's. The clay was replaced by top quality compost and mulched after planting.

Contrary to the usual xeriscaping, we have about 3000 sq. ft. of cottage garden beds. I never watered more than once a week in the beginning to get everything established. Since we are fortunate to have relatively cool summers, now that the plants are established, they can generally go 2-3 weeks between waterings, which are done with soaker hoses. When we get our rare hot spells I do have to water every 7-10 days, but the moment the fog comes back in, it's back to the usual.

I have hundreds of different plants, but eliminate any that attract too many pests or take too much water. If it can't live on my usual summer watering schedule, it goes into the 'greens cart' when it dies. It's surprising how many plants have done very well on this infrequent-but-deep soaking regime.

There's a twenty-year old stand of yellow cannas by an empty lot. Well-established, obviously, and gets no care except being mowed down once a year by the absentee owner. It survives our six-month summer drought with no trouble. Looks a bit tired by August, but perks right up again when the rains start in October and blooms its head off during the winter. It's on a downslope and must survive solely on any runoff from the neighbors, who don't seem to have any gardens to water at all. Surprises me every year, though; a lot tougher plant than it's supposed to be!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 2:11PM
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Just about everyone here has a full lawn in front and back, but it seems as though our summers are becoming longer and dryer. By the time july rolls around, about half of all grass has turned brown, and when august comes unless you pour thousands of gallons of water into your lawn, or have a sprinkler system (Which many people do) your lawn is history, it turns brown (dormant) and sometimes dies. Once late sept early october comes around, it starts greening up again, the lawn that was not killed from summer heat that is. We get 35" of precip a year, so overall water isnt a huge problem here, especially with the great lakes nearby. I don't notice a real big increase in xeriscaping (their is definately some around), but I just notice more people feeding their liquid guzzleing lawns as they do their SUVs.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 8:58PM
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gemfire(z9/10 AZ)

I believe we need more lawns, I would love to have some
nice green grass in my front and back yard, helps to
cool things down. All this rock and concrete just makes
it hotter here. Also have 2 dogs and 2 kids that
run in and out and the dust is terrible. I'd much
rather be out mowing the lawn than continously vaccuuming
and wiping dust off of everything. If we used grass that
is for our climate we should be able to water in the
late evening and not have to water as much. What gets
me is when I see the city with there nice green grass
and the sprinklers come on 3 or 4 times a day and they
say xeriscape!
Someday I will have my grass....


    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 7:29PM
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romur1(z7 NM)

gemfire, you live in the desert and there's drought.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 9:19PM
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gemfire(z9/10 AZ)

Yes, but there are some drought tolerant grasses.
I don't necessarily need the whole yard grass. I'd
like a little in the front and a little in the back
with bushes and flowers all around the outer edges.
I think grass not only keeps down the dust but it
also cools things off. Also green cleans the air.
We have way to much heat and pollution these days.
No wonder our ozone layer is burnning up.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 11:04PM
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Vikk(8b sunset 10)

It's much cooler here with a misting of water every other day over the green lawns, and elsewhere I've experienced some pretty ugly dust storms that pop up continuously. The carpets of green around me are home to many types of birds including robins. At night it sounds like a jungle, the grackles making a lovely racket. Any change here should probably be made gradually.

An old classmate from Bermuda witnessed the women toothbrushing in the dormitory bathrooms, brushing away while water was running. The university was located in an area that didn't have a problem of lack of water. She brought it up in a class and begged everyone not to use the water like that and to conserve water in general.

My question was, "Why?" What good does it do to save water in New England? How does that make your life in Bermuda better and how does it help *your* water problem? I still have the same question.

I also wonder why in here we fail to see mention of what gemfire has said: It's green, so why is that bad? I can only imagine how the sun reflecting off so much installed rock can heat up an environment.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 12:34PM
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"I also wonder why in here we fail to see mention of what gemfire has said"

I think a small amount of lawn is really useful in some situations but large lawns just use too much water in dry areas. I have lots of paving and its very hot in our long summer but Im finding that increasing the shade in general keeps the temperature down and means the plants dont need as much water because there is much less evaporation when the sun isnt beating down on the soil.

I also have a small area of lawn and it went from struggling on water restrictions to doing really well because i put up a screen to shade it from the west instead of increasing the water, what a difference it made. so dont just think drought tolerant, plant shade trees or think about a pergola etc as well because it makes a huge difference to the water needed and where I live the light levels are so high (and Im sure its the same in places like california and arizona and lots of other places seen here) that those full sun plants in a normal climate dont need full scorching sun to do well or even flower in hot and arid types of places.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 11:00AM
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Unfortunately, many people have a skewed idea of what xeriscape means. Here in Albuquerque, many people think it means a yard full of gravel or lava rocks, and maybe one or two ugly little juniper bushes baking in direct sunlight. It's too bad, because there are really a lot of beautiful drought tolerant native plants that can be used to create a water-wise and visually pleasing landscape. Personally, I feel grass lawns are a waste of time and water, not to mention the fact that they are visually very boring. However, if planted in the right microclimate of a landscape, i.e., the cooler north-facing part of a yard, they can be ok in arid climates. I understand the arguments in favor of lawns, but with the right trees, cooling your immediate environment can be achieved without a lawn. Trees such as acacia, mesquite, desert olive, desert willow, palo verde, etc. And if you really must have a lawn of any size, there are many dry climate grasses that are ideal for the desert southwest.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 6:50PM
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