Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I have been busy lately, taking cuttings to make seedlings for a big xeriscaping project I'm doing for a friend. So, this article may sound very dull to some of you. If that's the case, I apologize in advance and recommend you page down a bit for something more controversial.

For those of you who don't live here in Florida, or in other areas with similar climates or water shortages, you may be unfamiliar with xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is actually a copyrighted term by the Colorado WaterWise Council. However, like "Kleenex", it has come to be commonly used to describe a product/concept that is universal.

The Colorado WaterWise Council describes it this way: "Xeriscape promotes creative approaches to water conserving landscapes by helping people improve their landscapes and to reduce the need for water, maintenance and other resources. ...Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 60% or more."

Truthfully, if a yard is properly xeriscaped, you really don't need to water it at all in Florida. You simply need to maintain it (in my humble opinion) even though some people choose to let it grow wild.

In Florida, we need to plant more decorative gardens that artfully display succulent (i.e. water storing) plants of all varieties and types as well as other drought-tolerant vegetation. As the tourists come here and decide to move down permanently, we are running out of both land and water. That means that it's unwise to plant grass lawns anymore: Even when recycled water is available, is it really best to waste it on grass lawns (which are notoriously water-greedy)?

To arrange a xeriscaped yard in an attractive manner, it's wise to google "xeriscape", where you'll find many attractive examples. It's important to take a plant's maturation into consideration. If it is expected to grow tall, you should position the plant toward the back of an arrangment, with shorter plants at the forefront. Ground cover-type plants can be interspersed throughout the arrangement.

I also recommend placing your plantings within a free-form shape, bordered with something (such as a plastic or wood-slat border) that will let people know that what you're doing is intentional. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a yard that looks "weedy". And mulching, even if with an inexpensive mulch such as pine needles, is mandatory for reducing the weeds and giving it a uniform and finished look.


The Lazy Iguana said...

I never water the stupid lawn. Let it turn brown and die - then I do not have to mow it!

I am not the master of the lawn yet. But one day I will have a lawn that I am the king of. I will go for an "everglades pine forest" look and plant palmettos. Let em grow wild. Who cares. Who am I to reign in nature? Lawn manicuring would make me some sort of nature fascist / nazi. Let it grow as it will.

No watering, no fertilizing, NO MOWING, no pruning, no anything like that.

But I might plant some of those 12 foot tall sun flowers. Just to make the neighbors think I am strange. It would be cool to fill the front and back yards up with those things at least once. Or....PINEAPPLES! Fill the front yard up with pineapples. Tell everyone I am a farmer and I am getting a hefty tax break. Start a trend!

But really - I love the idea of a lawn that requires nothing from me once I have it all planted and the stuff is rooted.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Oh yea! I also have another plan to never have to mow the lawn again!

Fact 1 - the Miami Blue Butterfly is a federally protected species (listed as threatened).

Fact 2 - I happen to know what plant the butterfly likes to eat and what plant the butterfly likes to lay eggs on.

Fact 3 - I have already planted said plants.

Fact 4 - Once I have a population of the Miami Blue Butterfly I can have the State declare my yard a butterfly refuge, and suddenly all these VERY STRICT federal rules are in place. I can not disturb the habitat at all. ADIOS MOWER! The noise disturbs the butterfly. The County will not be able to fine me either, because I will be my own private refuge. Nature will be allowed to happen - without any interference from humans - in my yard by Federal Law! Sweet.

Senor Caiman said...


I'll never forget the year I got mole crickets in my bahia. After putting down the chlorbait it was fun hunting for the dead mole crickets but the yard was gone.

I then switched to St. Augustine which as you know requires a lot of water. Every month my water bill was over $500.00.

Then the city promised me unlimited reclaimed water, but they lied right to my face. I will get even with those people if it's the last thing I do. I have others to get even with too so don't think it's going to happen right away.

Excellent post.

Paul said...

In W.TX, NM, AZ and S.CA many lawns are made of gravel and regionally native desert plants. Some yards are beautiful. They depend solely upon the rain that falls. Weeds is the downside.

QUASAR9 said...

Wow Saur,
I've been missing it all
Love your Xeriscaping project
Lucky friend you have!