The High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona is a non-profit 501 C-3 corporation dedicated to educating our communities about water-wise gardening. For additional information write:
4397 E AZ Highway 260
Payson, AZ 85541
The first concept of Xeriscape™ is to create zones for water use. By grouping plants with similar water requirements together, you design a landscape that is both water-efficient and beautiful.
Begin with the water zone nearest your house. This zone can serve as a mini-oasis, utilizing the highest water use plants in your landscape. The shady east and north sides of your home are good places for foundation plantings. The areas shaded by adjacent structures, such as carports and patio roofs can be included in this zone, utilizing run-off from rooflines and downspouts. Usually drives, walkways, planter beds and patios interrupt the planting areas in this zone, making it the smallest as far as square footage is concerned.
The second zone serves as a transition zone, blending the lush area with the dry area of your landscape. The plants for this zone will range from moderate to low water use, and should require little supplemental watering (once a week or less) once established.
The third zone is the arid zone. This is a great place to include the native vegetation that occurs naturally in our area. The plants chosen for this area should require no supplemental water once established. This area would be located the farthest from the house and away from high traffic areas.
Now is a good time to begin the planning process. List your needs and evaluate your property. Work on making structural changes or “hardscape”, which might include laying a walkway, setting large rocks in place, building a dry-stone wall, or reducing your turf area.
Design your water system. The most efficient way of conserving water is by installing a drip system that delivers water directly to plant roots, thereby cutting down on evaporation and run-off. Drip components are not expensive, and the cost can be recovered in a few months’ savings on your water bill.
Remove plants that don’t fit into your new water conservation landscape, and work on controlling perennial weeds. Plants you previously may have regarded as “weeds” may be native wildflowers that you now would like to incorporate into your new Xeriscape plan. If you are very anxious to get started planting new plants, select an area away from the house that will become an arid zone. Select plants that are very low water use, but give them what they need to become established.
Our local nursery, Plant Fair, has an excellent selection of xeric plants in stock so now is a good time to start becoming familiar with what is available commercially. Boyce-Thompson Arboretum in Superior, AZ and the Flagstaff Arboretum are also good sources of native and xeric plants.
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