Sonoma County Master Gardeners

medhabitatgardens005by Steven Hightower, Master Gardener

Xeriscape is a term that was coined and trademarked by a water department task force in Denver in 1978, and refers to water-wise, climate-appropriate gardening. It derives from the Greek term xeros, which means dry, and landscape. Xeriscaping is not necessarily a parched, barren look, nor a no-maintenance (e.g., all rock) approach. Xeriscapes can have color, blooms, lushness and even a certain amount of turf. They are not incompatible with Mediterranean-style gardening or habitat gardening. A properly designed and implemented xeriscape can significantly reduce (but not eliminate) maintenance, and it has been estimated that it can reduce water use by up to 60 percent.

According to the Denver 'founders' there are several basic principles of xeriscaping:
  • Climate-appropriate plant selection
  • Superior garden design
  • Efficient, non-wasteful irrigation
  • Extensive mulching
  • Minimal turf areas
  • Conservation of water in soil
  • Proper maintenance

Climate-appropriate plant selection means those whose water needs are closely suited to local water availability. Here in Sonoma, where we have a dry summer wet-winter Mediterranean climate, those plant varieties that are appropriate are those that survive on little summer water—see the list at the end of this article. Natives are always a choice that is in line with xeriscape principles.

Efficient, non-wasteful irrigation generally means drip, with the exception of effective

sprinklers for densely planted areas of ground cover or bunch grasses. The term hydro-zoning refers to the practice of grouping plants by their water needs, so that just the right amounts of water can be given, which avoids both over and under-watering of particular plants. Each zone uses a separate valve, whether the method be drip, soaker or sprinkler, ensuring that each zone may be programmed independently.

Mulching helps moderate soil temperature, reduce evaporative water loss, and keep down weeds at the same time. Chipped or shredded barks are the most common mulches, but gravel and stones may be used as well. Soil amendment with compost both provides nitrogen for plant growth, and improves soil structure for water conservation.

Regular maintenance is not eliminated in xeriscaping. Pruning and fertilizing are still required, as is weeding, although mulch and drip irrigation will reduce weed germination considerably. Irrigation systems must be periodically tested, and seasonally adjusted. Pest management is still required, and both organic pest management, and IPM, or integrated pest management, are practices that are very consistent with the ideology of xeriscape.

Replacement of traditional lawn with ground covers or lower-water bunching grasses is a key element in xeriscaping. Ground covers such as creeping or wooly thyme, and grasses such as the dwarf versions of blue fescue, fountaingrass, and deer grass can serve much the same visual and use purposes as turfgrass, and require much less care and water than a lawn.

A small, far from extensive, list of xeriscapic plants appropriate for Sonoma County includes:


Rosemary, lavender, yarrow (achillea species), santa barbara daisy (erigeron), gaura, mexican sage, salvia greggii, verbena bonariensis, phlomis, kniphofia, catmint and dusty miller (lychnis) are good choices.



You might also like:

"Xeriscape by Design"
"Xeriscape by Design"

Starting a Vegetable Garden

Hey! I plan on starting a vegetable garden soon, I've never done any gardening before. Would an experience gardener like to offer some advice? I've got a few basic questions!
1) Do you test pH levels of the dirt in your garden? If so, can you have different pH levels in each row of plants?
2) I read that you can't plant strawberries close to peppers because they spread diseases. Have you tried this before? Is it better to have 2 gardens?
3) What do I need to do to the soil beforehand? Obviously I need to loosen it up a bit, maybe get some nice healthy dirt in there

Strawberry fields on my terrace  — Daily News & Analysis
The farm, comprising of small plots (a minimum of 10X10), at Sarjapur Road on the outskirts of Bangalore caters to those living in the city who want to grow their own food. George is at her farm at least once ..

DIY Projects: Xeriscape Landscaping
eBooks ()
DiaNoche Designs Canvas Wall Art from DiaNoche Designs Home Decor Ideas - Xeriscape Garden
Home (DiaNoche Designs)
  • This is the BEST quality Canvas Art you will find ANYWHERE for the money. Made in the USA
  • Genuine Artist Gallery Wrapped Canvas with 1-1/4 inch frame and perfect corners
  • Solid face for sturdy, front image support that prevents the canvas from loosening or deforming over time
  • Ready to hang out of box with pre-installed hanging hardware on the back
  • Pigment Based Inks for excellent fade resistance and finished with a clear acrylic for scratch resistance.
Fulcrum Publishing Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-Wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes
Book (Fulcrum Publishing)
HOME-OUTDOOR Drought Resistant-Xeriscape Wildflower Mix 1,000+ Seeds Garden, Lawn, Supply, Maintenance
Lawn & Patio (HOME-OUTDOOR)
  • A mix formulated for dry areas or Xeriscaping
  • Fill your yard with color and save on watering!
  • Buy from a Certified California Nursery
  • Registered CA. Seed Seller

Related posts:

  1. Unique Garden Designs
  2. Waterwise Garden Design
  3. Landscape Garden Designer

  • Avatar Bob How did the Mesopotamians and Egyptians contribute to the advancement of civilization?
    Mar 01, 2013 by Bob | Posted in Trivia

    Explain your answer using specific examples.

    • The list is so long, I will just list 5 for each:

      MESOPOTAMIA, the cradle of civilization, contributed:

      1) Earliest evidence of communication via symbols or runes on a substrate i.e. written lan …aling the sick. By 500 BC, the papyrus records revealed detailed knowledge of human anatomy, nutrition & amputations with use of prosthetics., even dentistry. Their embalming practicese influence our practices today.