Landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It is promoted in regions that do not have easily accessible, plentiful, or reliable supplies of fresh water, and is gaining acceptance in other areas as access to water becomes more limited. Xeriscaping may be an alternative to various types of traditional gardening.
From middle school through high school I routinely cut yards to make extra money in addition to managing our own landscape. This was miserable work under Georgia’s hot summer sun. After high school I swore that I would avoid owning a home which required any kind of lawn maintenance. This was an easy goal initially. We lived in condos and apartments which meant no landscape duties for me. Then we bought our first home together after moving back from California.
After living out west for a while, Angela and I were introduced to dry arid topography along with the preference for Synthetic Turf in drought areas. While living there we came to like the simple, clean, low maintenance style of that scenery. And because the area was so rain starved, it made sense that people would pursue that type of landscaping. When we moved back to Atlanta we wanted to bring that style with us and a different strategy to lawn care.
First some back story on the love affair between Americans and their quest for a lush green lawn. In short, yards are a status symbol through and through. A sign of having arrived and being able to shell out extra unneeded income on the upkeep for grounds. The yard is the frame for showing off each man’s personal palace. The book, “Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony,” gives even more insight into the back story of the rise of the American Lawn, its environmental impacts, and how we should think different about our landscape.
Additionally, the environmental impacts of traditional maintenance techniques are pretty high. Climate change is trending towards hotter and hotter summers. These summers make for debilitating for conditions for yard maintenance specialist. Additionally, there have been numerous lawsuits related to the potential Cancerous links between yard care chemicals like RoundUp. For me, the time required alone to maintain a beautiful landscape is too great. Unless you are yielding produce from gardening, I don’t think it’s the best use of time in general. It’s especially frustrating watching City workers trying to maintain green space along road ways and wonder how that time and effort could be better spent.
So, combined with our passion for design and minimalism, we have tried our hands at Xeriscaping at our last two homes. Sometimes, we refer to this approach as hardscaping, because we tend to go with pavers, stone and gravel in place of traditional ground cover. We also trim back tree limbs from over the roof line and remove anything that requires extensive TLC or provides no quantifiable value. We’ve also called our approach smart-scaping because we try to leverage the natural patterns of the sun and rain to drive what vegetation we do keep. The goal always is almost no to very low maintenance. Along with year round use, and kid/dog/people friendly environments.
We’ve gotten positive feedback and I am sharing our results with the hope that more people will try our approach. So below, you will see some below and after pictures of our most recent effort. We recently worked with a turn-key service called With Perspective for realizing our goals. Well Gardening is a site that has great getting started guide on Xeriscaping as well. Lastly, here are some pros and cons for Xeriscaping.
|• 0 to Low Maintenance|
• Year Round Use
• Environmentally Friendly
|• Upfront Cost
• Safety (hard surfaces)
• Hard to Change once set