Landscaping that will save you money – Signals AZ

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With intense heat waves and much of the American West experiencing severe drought during the summer, you may be wondering how you can do your part to conserve water, help the environment, and reduce your utility bills.

But how are you supposed to reduce your water usage and maintain that lush landscaping that makes the neighbors jealous?

landscaping, xeriscape, drought tolerant, PAAR, Realtor.com, Prescott Area Association of Realtors

The answer: xeriscaping, a not new but increasingly popular landscaping trend that relies on drought-tolerant plants and smart gardening practices to conserve water. When done right, xeriscaping can add curb appeal and lower your costs.
Whether you’re a brand-new homeowner looking to create a drought-resistant backyard or an experienced gardener adapting to the ever-changing climate, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about xeriscaping.

What is xeriscaping?

Originating in Colorado in the 1980s, xeriscaping was part of a joint initiative between the Denver Water Department and various nonprofit organizations to educate the public about water-conscious landscaping. Since then, it has become a growing trend among gardeners and landscapers throughout the American West.

“Here in Utah, about 1 in 15 projects we do is xeriscape,” says Perry Bratt, co-founder of landscaping company Stratton & Bratt. “Although it has evolved over the years, xeriscaping is all about using as little water as possible.”

But xeriscaping isn’t just about watering your garden less frequently. It’s also about being smart about what you plant and how you landscape, as both of these have a major impact on how much water you really need.

“The main goal of xeriscaping is to increase the efficiency of landscaping,” says Elle Meager of Outdoor Happens. “When you increase landscaping efficiency, water demand decreases and your savings can grow rapidly.”

So what does increasing landscaping efficiency actually mean? Let’s dive into some basics of xeriscaping to find out.

How to start xeriscaping

Here are some basic xeriscaping concepts that will help you reduce the amount of water your garden needs.

Improve your soil: One of the easiest ways to start xeriscaping is to improve the moisture-holding abilities of your garden soil.

“If you’re thinking about minimizing the amount of water your plants get, they need all the help they can get,” says Meager. “That’s why amending the soil and adding compost is one of the fundamental principles of xeriscaping.”

Adding nutrient-rich compost with moisture-retaining properties will help your plants stay healthier and happier between waterings. Also consider adding mulch or peat moss to your topsoil to retain even more moisture.

Give up your lawn: Another relatively easy way to xeriscape your garden is to ditch your lawn and any other non-native plants that require tons of precious water.

“There’s no two ways to do this: your lawn drinks water by the gallon and it’s always thirsty,” says Meager. “With the way the world is changing, thick, green, lush lawns may eventually become an archaic, extravagant luxury item. You could probably save water and money by replacing your expensive lawn with mulch, rocks, silt, soil or drought-tolerant native plants.

Choose native plants: Not ready to give up a lawn? Then, start small by focusing your gardening efforts on plants that don’t need a ton of water, like those that grow naturally in your area.

“Native plants have evolved to survive in the region without human intervention, so they can continue to thrive with natural rainfall and weather conditions,” Bratt says. “Not only do local plants generally require less water, but they also need less maintenance and fertilizer, live longer, and are naturally ideal for native species of birds and pollinators.”

Water efficiently: As well as being aware of how and what you decide to plant in your garden, you will also want to come up with a revised plan for strategic water use.

“Imagine a watering system that delivers water as efficiently as possible to your plant’s root system,” says Meager. “That’s the beauty of soaker hoses and drip irrigation.”

If you opt for an irrigation setup, just make sure you set things up correctly.

“Most excess water loss on properties is due to over-watering,” Bratt says. “Drip systems generally save water unless, as is often the case, the drip system is allowed to run longer than it should.”

What you must remember

Xeriscaping isn’t difficult, but “remember that xeriscaping isn’t an overnight process,” says Meager. “It takes time, commitment and above all planning”

But if you can achieve a water-efficient garden filled with low-maintenance plants and low-cost landscaping, you’ll end up saving money and helping the environment in the long run.

*Content originally published by REALTOR.com, provided by PAAR**

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