Gardening with Jennifer: Xeriscaping

Saturday, September 18, 2010

By Jennifer Rotermund

It is September and our beautiful Northwest Summer we all waited so long for now feels like it has already passed us by. It is as if sometime in August we fell victim to an old cliche as we blinked and, just like that, missed Summer. If any of you were like me, though, during that blink that was the sudden heat and drought of August, you were taken off guard by the lack of rain and scrambled to irrigate your gardens and lawns. Perhaps knowing that our droughts are usually short-lived, you gave your gardens every drop of water they could take - after all there were no water shortages declared this year! - and now you’re dreading the arrival of your water bill? 
Some of you (and I know you’re out there) have already stepped off the August - and hopefully late September/early October Indian Summer - irrigation hamster wheel and have created for yourself the elusive promised land of the “low-maintenance” garden. Xeriscaping (pronounced “zeer-i-scape-ing”) means landscaping with drought-tolerant plants and in a way that uses less water and requires a lot less maintenance. Xeriscaping can be as simple as replacing those water needy plants with drought tolerant plants or as radical as replacing your lawn with a dry creek bed of river rock surrounded by native plants and wood chip mulch that creates the look of our local forests right in your own backyard. You’ll have to water the new plants for the first season, in order to get them established, and you’ll still have to pull some weeds from time to time, but mostly you’ll spend your time sitting back and enjoying your landscape’s natural beauty.

For an added bonus, a number of drought tolerant plants are also edible! Have you ever walked through a wooded park or local forest in the summer grazing on Thimbleberry, Salmonberry, Oregon Grape or Evergreen Huckleberry? I have a friend who gathers a little Wild Ginger, when out on fishing trips, to season her day’s catch over an evening camp fire. Or consider the herbs we have inherited from dry climates around the world like, Rosemary, Lavender and Thyme. All of these plants and more are drought-tolerant, require very little maintenance, and could find a happy home in your garden. They even provide important food and habitat for our local wildlife.

If you’re ready to give Xeriscaping a try, I recommend you start by checking out Go Natives! - a Shoreline-based business that sells a wonderful variety of native plants - and attend one of their next sales. Also, visit our local Cromwell Park to see Xeriscaping in action. Then, take Xeriscaping to its highest form, by purchasing and installing your new drought-tolerant plants in the Fall or Spring when our rainy season will do the initial irrigation work for you!

Jennifer Rotermund is the Lead Gardener for Garden of Weedin’ (a local pesticide-free garden maintenance company), owner of Gaiaceous Gardens (an urban vegetable and herb farm and certified wildlife habitat in Shoreline) and a Habitat Steward.

Photos by Jennifer Rotermund


Post a Comment

We encourage the thoughtful sharing of information and ideas. We expect comments to be civil and respectful, with no personal attacks or offensive language. We reserve the right to delete any comment.
Facebook: Shoreline Area News
Twitter: @ShorelineArea
Daily Email edition (don't forget to respond to the email)

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP