Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Everyone's Talking Xeriscaping... among other conservation topics.

Time to face the music... there's a drought people. We need rain, and we need it pretty badly. (Although, not today. It's raining cats in dogs here in Atlanta.) Earlier this month, the National Drought Mitigation Center compliled a report that states that more than 50 percent of the country is either recovering from drough under a "drought watch" or has been currently ''declared" a drought area by the federal or state government. Thanks to the drought, everyone's talking water conservation in our city, our state and our country. It comes on the heels of (what I'm calling) the Green Movement. Everyone's talking CONSERVATION and environmental protection, whether water, land or resources. (Can you say, "oil prices, BP pipeline and the largest oil find in a century off the Gulf"?) And, with the recent death of conservationist Steve Irwin, otherwise known as The Crocodile Hunter, conservation and environmental protection are on the minds of many, nation-wide.

One of the latest trends is in conservation is Xeriscaping. No, it's not the newest Internet craze. It is, however, the latest trend in landscaping with water conservation and environmental protection in mind. Xeriscape, which derives from the Greek word “Xeros” or “dry,” is pronounced zera-scape, and is often referred to as “green landscaping” and other terms. It was established in 1981 in response to prolong drought in the US. Xeriscaping is an approach to landscaping using appropriate design, soil preparation, moderate irrigation, appropriate plant selection, use of certain mulches, and select methods of maintenance. It’s main focus is to have homeowners use native or well-adapted plants that are more pest-resistant and require less fertilizer and pesticides. It is a smart way to landscape that equates to using less water. In addition, this method of smart landscaping can often include working with a landscape professional to find the right mix of plants and landscape design that together fit environmental conditions and style preferences.

According to The American Gardener (March/April 2005), residents of Albuquerque, NM can currently receive an $800 rebate for xeriscaping their home landscapes, a $25 rebate on their water bill for buying a rain barrel for garden use, and substantial rebates for in-stalling water-saving toilets and washing machines. Because traditional turfgrass lawns are perhaps the biggest landscape water hogs, many cities reward their inhabitants for decreasing turf areas or switching to native alternatives. In Louisville, Colorado, residents receive rebates for installing a buffalo grass lawn. In San Antonio, Texas, where the city requires a minimum of one shade tree per lot, no more than 50 percent of the landscape may be planted in turf—and that portion must be Bermuda, buffalo, or zoysia grass. Since October 1991, when the City of Tempe in Arizona started its rebate program, an estimated1,900,000 square feet of turf have been removed and replaced with drought-tolerant landscaping. In addition to saving water and energy, these programs have fostered a return to native vegetation that is aesthetically pleasing, suited to the region, and supports wildlife.

So, if conserving water, protecting the environment, and cutting down on unnecessary landscaping practices are important to you or your customers, and it probably is, consider xeriscaping.

Check out these other general resources on the drought, conservation and xeriscaping:

http://www.conservation.org/xp/CIWEB/

http://www.nature.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeriscaping

http://www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/7745

One Atlanta-area Xeriscaping Expert:

www.popslandscaping.com

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