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Mountain Gardening: Plant a Water-wise Xeriscape Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

It is possible to grow a beautiful garden even if you’re on a water budget. These easy planting tips can help you transform your thirsty landscape into a water-wise xeriscape.

dry flower garden

By Jodi Torpey

While watering restrictions due to drought are new to some gardeners, I’ve been gardening like that for years. Colorado is a place of cyclical drought, so there always are extremely dry places somewhere in our beautiful state.

lavender corner

It’s fitting that Denver Water coined the term “xeriscape” in the 1980s while anticipating the next drought for our area. When I started xeriscaping about 14 years ago, it was right before another round of watering rules went into effect.

The first thing I did was tear up some turf. If you’re serious about saving water in your landscape, start by reducing the amount of irrigated lawn. You don’t need to remove all of it — even a small area of xeriscape saves water. Simply choose an area, remove some grass, and replant with water-wise plants such as golden yarrow, purple salvia, ornamental grasses, lavender, and lamb’s ear.

narrow xeriscape

Another way to save water with a xeriscape is replant the areas that are difficult to water such as hard-to-reach corners, or along sidewalks and driveways.

The narrow strip of grass next to my driveway was especially tough to water with sprinklers without watering the sidewalk. Now the garden teems with water-wise perennials, ground covers, and hardy shrubs that can be watered with drip irrigation or a hose-end sprayer. Water goes directly to plant roots, so not a drop is wasted.

flowers in rock mulch

Mulch is an important part of every xeriscape because it helps maintain soil moisture. Choose your mulch carefully because many water-wise plants prefer rock or gravel mulch instead of bark mulch.

Rock mulch easily captures even small amounts of precipitation to keep plant roots moist and cool. Gaillardia (blanket flower), Echinacea (purple coneflower), and Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) all grow well with rock mulch.

berries on shrub

Because you’re adding water-wise perennials to your xeriscape, it also makes sense to plant shrubs that can do double duty. Native shrubs, such as currents and serviceberry, provide edible fruit, fill large spaces, and need less water once established. Oh, and they attract birds to your yard!

What ideas do you have for adding water-wise plants to your xeriscape?

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