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San Diego State University

Common Experience Water

Problem:

Landscape design has involved the use of non-cooperative, water intensive plants that produce an unnecessary amount of waste and require a lot of maintenance. Many homes fill open space with grass and plants that give aesthetic pleasure and offer no particular service nor possess the ability to sustain themselves as they would in a natural environment. In warm-semi arid regions such as San Diego, these landscapes (if left exposed to sunlight) can allow water to evaporate at a very high rate thus requiring for more irrigation of the landscape. The high costs of heavy irrigation show in the water bills of individual homes – putting people in a monetary battle to maintain their yards and further depleting valuable water source.

 

Solution:

Rethink landscape design with the use of Xeriscaping techniques.

 

 

What is Xeriscaping?

The practice of Xeriscaping involves designing a landscape using slow-growing, drought resistant plants to significantly reduce the need for irrigation. This means that xeriscaped landscapes do not require any more irrigation than what is provided by the regional climate. What is Xeriscaping? The practice of Xeriscaping involves designing a landscape using slow-growing, drought resistant plants to significantly reduce the need for irrigation. This means that xeriscaped landscapes do not require any more irrigation than what is provided by the regional climate.

 

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How does Xeriscaping Work?

 

There are seven essential principles to Xeriscaping -- appropriate planning and design, soil improvement, plant selection, practical turf areas, watering, use of mulch and maintenance. The most common drought-resistant plant used in Xeriscaping is cactus. Drought resistant plants like cactus provide shade that keeps soil staying cool and slows evaporation. Cacti have large stems that also retain water. Their waxy skin prevents water lost by evaporation and their prickly spines protect other plants from animals seeking water. Other drought-resistant plants include agave, juniper, and lavender. Many herbs and spices are used in xeriscaping, such as thyme, sage, and oregano. The proper irrigation systems are needed for the most efficient use of water on xeriscaped landscapes. Drip systems and soaker hoses direct water directly to the base of the plant and prevent the water evaporation that sprinklers allow. It also helps to group plants together that have the same watering needs – biodiversity is important to maintain in a landscape, but beware of invasive plants that could take up more water than others. Organic wood-based mulch includes cedar, bark, or pine peelings. Inorganic mulch includes stones, such as cobblestone or lava rock. Both keep soil cool and retain water, preventing evaporation. However, stone-based mulch works best in the shade as rocks soak up heat from the sun causing the much-need moisture to evaporate.

 

Why is this important to San Diego?

 

San Diego is a dry, semi-arid region. Because of such a climate, water in San Diego evaporates quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. Southern California has such a limited water supply that by designing a landscape that matches our region’s soil type, temperature ranges, and lighting, selecting native and/or compatible plants, and installing efficient irrigation systems, a balance can be achieved that fits both the aesthetic needs of the community, and the resource availability of San Diego County. Xeriscaping at home not only reduces the strain on water resources, but it also saves on the costs of water bills for individual households. Cities with similar and dryer climates like Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona have adopted Xeriscaping as part of their water conservation efforts.

 

Xeriscaping:

 

o Conserves water.

o Produces little waste

o Provides lots of attractive planting options.

o Presents minimal pest and disease problems.

o Thrives with little fertilization.

o Requires low pruning and maintenance.

o Saves valuable landfill space!

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