Tuesday, September 16, 2014




Gardening with Laurie: Give xeriscaping a try

By By Laurie Garretson
Sept. 12, 2013 at 4:12 a.m.

Laurie Garreston

Being a gardener usually means being closer to nature. Being a gardener who's very close to nature brings you much more in touch with our climate and the weather.

Get a group of gardeners together and you can count on hearing all about how the weather has affected some aspect of their gardening.

The main topic of so many conversations among gardeners over the past year or so has definitely been the drought - or more precisely, the lack of rain.

The lack of rain in our area has recently caused our municipalities to enforce Stage III of the city's Drought Contingency Plan. Being well below our average rainfall amount means we have to conserve the water that we do have.

During this stage, gardeners are allowed to use water at anytime with a hand-held hose that has a positive shut-off nozzle on it or drip irrigation hoses. All other outside watering is allowed from 6 to 10 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to midnight on designated days. Addresses ending in an even number may water Sundays and Thursdays, and addresses ending in an odd number may water Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Knowing what a large amount of water usually goes to keeping an average size landscape alive and healthy along with the lack of rain, it's no wonder we have come to this point. There doesn't seem to be any relief in sight at this time, so it makes sense that we are going to have to make some changes in our gardening practices.

I think it's time for all of us to start learning and applying the principles of xeriscaping. This simply means we start gardening in a way that helps to conserve our water. We start concentrating on maximizing the benefits of every drop of rain. We want to keep as much water as possible in our soils and not lose it to evaporation or runoff.

Start noticing how water naturally moves through your landscape. Notice the areas that tend to naturally get more moisture and areas that tend not to. This can dictate where to plant certain plants.

Choose healthy, native plants that are better adapted to our climate and your soil type. Plant all plants that require similar growing conditions in the same areas. A plant that's growing in the correct area and soil will require less care.

Incorporate drip irrigation systems in your planting areas. Try to avoid sprinklers. Sprinklers waste water to evaporation and can cause disease from having wet foliage.

Mulch all planting areas with an organic type mulch - whether shredded cedar, gravel, chopped up leaves, compost or other natural materials.

For the hottest, driest spot in the landscape, try planting plants that are more adapted to such harsh conditions: plants with fuzzy or waxy leaves; plants with gray leaves; plants with thick, fleshy roots (yucca); and plants with succulent leaves (sedum).

We can have nice landscapes with a few alterations that can provide us with less work and give us more time and help save dollars on water usage.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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