Everyone on earth can appreciate great landscaping. After all, it is a field (no pun intended) that has existed since the beginning of time. Think about it: as a human species, we’ve relied on land far longer than we’ve lived in brick-and-mortar homes.
According to The Fundamentals of Landscape Architecture, landscaping involves the
arrangement of land, water, plant forms, and structures for their best use and greatest enjoyment
And while the concept remains the same, the practice of landscaping – residential, public, and commercial – has evolved tremendously over the centuries
Modern landscaping didn’t emerge until the 1950s, when people across America started to take great pride in their homes. With the Great Depression in the rearview mirror, and service members returning from World War II, people could finally afford to build their dream homes from the inside out.
And then, with the emphasis on the great outdoors these days, gardens today are about far more than aesthetics. People want – expect, even – that their landscaping offers them opportunities for spending quality time outdoors. They want their yards to be an extension of the home: places to relax, makeshift offices where they can perhaps get work done, and a comfortable location to absorb a healthy dose of Vitamin D. The list goes on…
The complexities of planning, building, and nurturing residential landscapes
So while everyone can appreciate beautiful landscaping, there aren’t as many people who fully understand how much science, analysis, planning, labor, and costs go into creating a great outdoor layout. It certainly takes more than a “green thumb” to build the outside getaway of your dreams.
Officially, the optimal landscape comes together as the perfect blend of practicality, functionality, and artistry. For example, homeowners shouldn’t be spending more time on upkeep than they do on actually enjoying their outdoor property.
And, to achieve this, there are certain factors to consider – some being in your control, and some being out of it.
First of all, you must consider the geographic climate of where you live, which of course will impact what kind of biolife can survive, and thrive; outdoors. Then there is the topography of the land in general where you live – coastal, arid, mountain, desert topographies, and so on.
Another thing to consider is the topography of your specific parcel of land: Where are there slopes, and where is the land flat? How big are your grassy areas and what kind of grass makes up those terraces? What about the soil? The mulch?
Finally, there are the costs (no small concern). Certain outdoor elements, plants, and structures are going to involve more resources for upkeep than others will. And once you’re committed, it’s hard to turn back.
Landscaping complexities in Colorado
As Coloradoans all know, there are inevitable, ever-present landscaping challenges.
Across the state, we can annually expect more than 300 days of sun. And, as one of the driest states in the United States, Colorado’s semi-arid, high desert climate will have a massive impact on the success of landscaping.
Prolonged periods of drought in Colorado have made water a very expensive, often unreliable resource. In fact, the average Colorado household uses about 50 percent of its water for landscape irrigation.
So, in order to plan for an outdoor oasis that will thrive without breaking the bank, you must consider a landscaping option that collectively doesn’t require complex irrigation. Water.
Xeriscaping: Colorado’s smart approach to outdoor living
In the words of National Geographic, xeriscaping is the process of landscaping that “reduces or eliminated the need for irrigation.” In other words, it’s all about building outdoor spaces that require little to no water (beyond what the weather will naturally provide).
It was more than thirty years ago that Denver became one of the first urban areas to embrace Xeriscaping as a philosophy. After a particularly significant period of drought, a group of Colorado landscaping professionals trademarked the term ‘Xeriscape’ and then laid out the principles behind it – essentially, the process of using “as many native, drought-resistant plants as possible and arranging them in efficient, water-saving ways.”
Seems simple enough, right?
In many ways, yes. Conceptually, of course, choosing to xeriscape is a no-brainer. It ensures consistently high landscaping quality, and it cuts down on maintenance costs. In fact, according to one study, an Xeriscape reduces a household’s water use by at least 60 percent.
On top of bringing incredible benefits to your own home (and budget), going the xeric route also benefits the environment – for one, by keeping more water available in public reserves.
Despite all the obvious benefits, xeriscaping isn’t a simple project that you can execute yourself. It takes more than Google research and an eye for attractive, water-proof plant life.
To enjoy the endless fruits (perhaps literally) of a xeric garden, you need to consult a seasoned professional.
How Xeriscaping works (and why you need an expert)
Let us reiterate: Xeriscaping is not a simple task. It takes a serious, dedicated expert to help you plan, re-turf, and pick all the right plants for your new, beautiful ecosystem. To give you an idea, Here are some of the primary actions that the right landscaping company will take in order to get your xeric paradise up and running:
- After crafting a detailed plan (including to-scale diagram) for your xeric yard, your landscape artist will likely start the project with the removal – or rearrangement, in some cases – of your grass turf. According to HowStuffWorks, “this doesn’t necessarily mean that all grass must be removed and replaced with gravel…[it’s more about] taking into account where grass will be most useful and enhance the landscape, not take away (both physically and visually) from the other plant life.”
Patches of grass that serve no functional purpose will be replaced with gravel or other forms of ground cover. Or, if your heart is set on greenery, there are types of grass that don’t require as much water as others.
- Here is the the creative part: choosing – and then planting – drought tolerant plants to enhance your brand new yard.
And, if you thought such plant choices would be limited, you’d be wrong. Here are just a few drought-friendly (and extremely low maintenance) plants to choose from:
- Butterfly Bushes
- Siberian Pea Shrubs
- Russian Sage
- Blue Mist Spirea
- Blue Avena Grass
- Purple Leaf Sand Cherry
- Golden Currant
- Sand Cherry
Just remember that “drought tolerant” doesn’t necessarily mean that a plant can go without any hydration. While some plants like succulents don’t need any water at all, it is important to know what types of plant life will require watering (and how much) beyond what they get from rainfall during any given year. Luckily, your landscapist will know the ins and outs of these hydration needs!
Another side note (and a huge bonus): Since these types of plants typically don’t need fertilizer or pesticides, upgrading your garden with them eliminates big environmental hazards as well as potential sources of harm to you and your family.
- Your landscaper (or Xeriscaper) will determine the right type of soil for each of your chosen plants. Whether it is sand, silt, clay (or a combination), your landscape expert will make sure that each of your plants will be rooted in the exact kind of soil they need to remain cool and retain water.
- It goes beyond soil strategy. The right landscaping artist will also identify the right mulch for each organism in your garden. There are multiple types of mulch, and unfortunately, some are prone to soaking in too much sun, which of course leads to water evaporation within plant roots.
- Finally! When the planning and execution are done, it’s all about maintenance (just like it is with any traditional landscape). Your Xeriscape landscaping experts will establish a plan of action and a maintenance schedule so that you can continue to enjoy your new eco-friendly landscape – throughout all 300 (plus) sunny days that we enjoy here in The Centennial State.
To learn more about all the benefits and options for Xeriscaping, contact us today.