Gardener's Notebook - A look at xeriscaping

Gardeners are a social bunch, and I know we all miss seeing each other and talking gardening.  Last week the YDHS had an online meeting, and it was wonderful to see everyone!  Or, we visit by email, not in person the way we did BC (Before Covid) but still, it’s good to chat about gardens!  A fellow gardener mentioned xeriscaping, so it seemed like a timely topic for us to chat about today.

What is xeriscaping?  First of all, what it isn’t.  Xeriscaping is not removing all plant material from your yard.   Xeriscaping is a specific landscape style that uses plants that require minimal water use. We are conscious of water use and use it wisely with our plant selections.

How is this done?  By choosing plants that are more drought tolerant. That sounds like we’re talking about cacti, doesn’t it!  But drought tolerant plants include many plants we are familiar with,  perennials like heuchera, peonies, artemisia, dianthus, lamb’s ear, sedum, yarrow, rosemary, iris, day lilies, or annuals such a as zinnias, cosmos, salvia, sunflowers, and petunias..  There are also many beautiful grasses that would fit into a xeriscape, as well as shrubs such as lilac, potentilla, dogwood, and Virginia creeper.

There are several points to remember with xeriscaping.  Choosing drought tolerant plants is first.  Next, we must be aware of efficient use of water.  Sometimes we hear of gardens that are watered with a sprinkler.  While this looks like an old-fashioned picture of lazy, hazy summer days gone by, it is a very inefficient use of water.  The water is watering everything, not just the plants.  So it is going on bare garden patches, footpaths between the plants, and sidewalks.   On a hot summer day, much of it is evaporating.

An alternative is to water the plants individually and directly by hand.  Yes, it is more labor intensive, but the water goes just where it is needed.  Another efficient method would be a soaker hose.

What about lawn?  Lawn is a useful and attractive ground cover: it is nice for kids to play on, nice for pets to enjoy, cool and comfortable to walk on, the perfect backdrop for flowers and veggies. Lawn can fit in a xeriscaping mindset.  Remember that lawns are very adaptable; when they turn brown in dry spells, they are not dying; but going dormant to conserve water.  If we accept this idea, we can have the best of both worlds.

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There is an excellent book called “Creating The Prairie Xeriscape” by Sara Williams.  This book has all the information you need to know about xeriscaping, and would make a great addition to your own garden library to use as a future reference.

Have you joined any of the U of S online gardening sessions?  I took part in the session last week with Sara Williams on “The Spring Garden”.  It was just wonderful—please check out the upcoming sessions listed on the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society website at www.yorktonhort.ca and be part of these great learning opportunities.

    Thank you to our friends at the Yorkton This Week for their fine work.  Let’s pray for health for all, have a great week!

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