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Xeriscaping and Related Links

"Just because it grows wild doesn't mean it has no place in the garden."

Xeriscaping, from the Greek xeros (for "dry"), is often confused with natural landscape gardening. In truth, the two terms have quite different meanings. Xeriscaping is landscape gardening using plants that are drought-tolerant and using horticultural techniques that uses water most efficiently. Natural landscape gardening uses plants almost exclusively indigenous to the local area. It is possible that the plants used in xeriscaping and natural landscape gardening could be the same, as might be the case in Tucson, Arizona but not in Durham, North Carolina or Pleasanton, Texas. The idea in natural landscape gardening is that plants that naturally survive in your area are the ones best adapted to your soil, climate and rainfall. In either case, this should mean that your garden (or lawn) will need little to no supplemental watering to survive, and only a little to thrive. Well, that's the theory, anyway.

The problem is that in a large part of our country, a few miles or even a few hundred feet can make a big difference. Plants that require a lot of water, and live where they can satisfy those requirements, can often be found quite close to plants needing little water and living where they receive little. Cactus and cottonwood have little in common and have radically different thirsts, but they often habitate the same general areas and may live only a few dozen meters from each other. Soils, too, can vary widely in the same general area. I live in Pleasanton, Texas, barely 30 miles south of San Antonio, but that 30 miles makes a huge difference in the indigenous plants of the two communities. San Antone sits at the edge of a very alkaline limestone plateau called the Texas Hill Country, and the soil there is composed of decomposed limestone capped with a thin layer of alkaline clay. Pleasanton sits on a watershed that over the millennium has deposited many feet of sand and sandy loam, which is far closer to a neutral pH than that to the north. The two areas, in terms of natural flora, are as different as black and white. Be that as it may, one can still come to terms with his or her own piece of ground and plant grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees that will thrive without too much maintenance.

My problem is that I like to garden and I like to challenge the soil. Thus, while I applaude xeriscaping in general and principle, I only yield so far to its limitations. My mustang grapes are wild natives, but I also grow Campanelles, Catawbas, and Fredonias, none of which are indigenous to Texas. I love the delicate Pavonia lasiopetala (Rock Rose), a drought-tolerant native, but my wife loves the more elegant and fragrant varieties of the Rosa species, which are anything but xeriscaping material. At the same time, we both love our local wildflowers, many of which are suitable for bringing into the garden. But our land is also poulated with dozens of giant live oaks and smaller fruit and nut trees, and these, too, define what can and can't be done with our landscaping plans. And so we compromise with nature and our nurseryman and enjoy the fruits and flowers from both. And you know, I rather enjoy it that way.

The links below are divided to suit the needs of the general gardener and the xeriscapist (don't forget to explore my wildflower and fruit and nut tree pages!). And, just to be sure you're pointed in the right direction (wherever you live), I've included my favorite links on composting, nature's way of recycling, enriching and providing. No matter who you are and where you live, you should improve your soil at least once during the year to get the most out of it. Composting is but one way to do that.

Xeriscaping Links

A Sense of Place (Native Plants)
Aggie Horticulture Home Gardening Information Index
Austin Gardening FAQ
AZPLANTS: Arizona Native Plants List
Colorado State Garden Publications
Native Plant Society of Texas: Austin Chapter
PLANT Answers Index
PrairieScape HomePage
San Antonio Botanical Gardens
Southern Perenials and Herbs
Texas Botanical Garden Society Home Page
Texas Extension Information Resources Index
Texas Fall Gardening Guide
Texas Home Gardening Guide
Texas Master Gardener Information
Texas Plant Disease Handbook
USDA National Database of Plants
Watergardening - Water Gardening Index
Wildflower Images
Xeriscape Garden Club

Articles on Xeriscaping and Related Topics

Drought-Tolerant Plants for North Carolina Landscapes
Dwarf Conifers
Efficient Use of Water
Fact Sheet: Environmental Landscaping
Go Native! A Guide to Using Native Plants in Central Texas
Heartland Gardening: Drought Tolerant Home Landscaping
Landscape Styles
Landscaping for Energy Conservation
Learning About the Natives of Central Texas
Lush Landscapes that don't Waste Water
Native Plant Care
Native Plant Collection Ethics
Using Native Plants in Central Texas
Planning the Home Landscape
Planning Your Site for Landscaping in Central Texas
Planting and Maintaining Your Landscape in Central Texas
Preparing Your Site for Landscaping in Central Texas
Rock Gardens and Rock Garden Plants
Texas Seasonal Color Management
Waste Efficient Landscaping
Wise Water Use in Landscaping
Xeriscape Landscaping
Xeriscape: Seven Steps to Success
Xeriscaping Saves Water
Xeriscaping: Sources of New Native Ornamental Plants

Composting Links

Building Your Soil with Worms
Compost System-Sustainable Building Sourcebook
Rot Web Home Composting Information Site
The Compost Resource Page
Worm Composting (1)
Worm Composting (2)

Articles on Composting

A Recipe for Good Compost
Catch the Composting Craze
Don't Bag It - Leaf Management Plan
Grasscycling Offers Simple Alternative
What is Compost?
Worm Bins

General Gardening Links

Butterfly Garden Plants
Deer Resistant Plant List
(The) Garden Exchange
Garden Gate: Roots of Botanical Names
Horticulture Solutions
Internet Directory for Botany - Alphabetical List
Internet Directory for Botany - Gardening
SBE's Universal Seedbank
(The) Seed Guild

General Gardening Articles

Book Information: Deer Proofing Your Yard & Garden
Drip Irrigation
Energy Efficient Fertilization Practices
Fertilizing Woody Ornamentals
Growing Plants in Shade
Lawn Fertilization in Texas
Planting a Tree
Planting Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Propagating Perennials
Proper Pruning Techniques
Spacing of Landscape Plants
Starting Seedlings at Home

Last update was November 3rd, 2000.


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