Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Ah ha, fooled you! Bet you many of you were waiting for me to come up with the name of an American city or town beginning with the letter X, and then come up with photos from my camera. 

Dear readers, there are such places, but I have never been to any of them.  Well, I was within 20 miles of one such place once, but I have no photos.

So, for X day in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I am not going to blog about a place, but rather a practice that more and more residents of the United States are being forced to learn, due to continuing droughts in part of our country.  As my theme is America the Beautiful, I think this word is appropriate:


So, what is xeriscaping?  Put simply, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, xeriscaping is:

"a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques (as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation)."
The word "xeriscape" comes from the Greek word xeros, meaning "dry" and - well, landscape.  It was most probably first used in this modern sense by a special task force of the Denver Water Department in 1978, following a drought in 1977. Now, with a major drought in California, where a lot of food consumed in the United States comes from, water conservation is a must on farms, and in residential and commercial landscaping.

It is said that some 50% of household water is used to maintain landscaping.  We can no longer afford to use water wastefully for that purpose.

Years ago, I lived in Wichita, Kansas.  Our first friends were a couple originally from West Virginia.  This man had tried, and tried, and tried, to grow the bluegrass he loved in his native West Virginia.

Here's a tip:  don't try to grow a bluegrass lawn in Wichita, Kansas, a city that gets less than average rainfall, and gets hot in the summer. 

The purpose of xeriscaping is NOT to create a landscape full of white rock.  No, far from it!  Rather, the purpose is to create a landscape that has water conservation as its major priority.  It is a landscape with plants that are grown in harmony with the environment.    You don't have to give up lawns, but you minimize lawn grass, and use clumping grasses that don't need lots of water.  You grow plants that do well in your area, instead of growing a landscape full of "exotics".  You use mulches effectively.  Pruning and weeding are still needed - this is not a "plant it and forget it" method.

Many plants we are familiar with are suitable for the xeriscape: juniper, lilacs, lavender, butterfly bush, catalpa, day lilies, iris, sedum, creeping phlox, daffodils, lily of the valley, sweet woodruff, hyssop, gazania, alyssum, sage, grapes, hens and chickens and potentilla.  There are lists online for specific climates, including those intended for California.  (If only I could grow rosemary as a perennial.  Sigh...)

Yes, we can keep America beautiful, while conserving water.

We can even grow plants on our roofs, and I actually have a picture of one here in Binghamton.  Yes, this is also a form of xeriscaping.  Imagine, one day, growing food on your roof?  Or even sedums?

Are you in one of the drought affected areas?  How are you coping?

Tomorrow, for the letter Y, I return to Florida, and some man made beauty.


  1. Never heard of Xeriscaping before!! This needs more awareness, I think, considering water shortages are worsening every summer.

  2. I had never heard of xeriscaping. Quite interesting to see plants grown on a roof. Luckily it rains a lot here. But still, we should always conserve water.

  3. Ha! Now I know how to garden if I move to Dubai! Thanks for the education and the cool pic of how I can decorate my roof if I ever get a really tall ladder. I am curious about tomorrow . . .

  4. Hi Alana :)

    Interesting post! Learned something new, thank you :)

  5. You are a tricky one! ;-) I will have to ask my oldest daughter, who has been involved in similar types of growing and gardening projects, if she has ever heard of xeriscaping.

    No, we're not having a drought problem here, at least not in our part of Maine.

  6. Great information! Whether one is in a drought-plagued area or not, xeriscaping seems like a very wise and sustainable approach to take to gardening.

  7. I think it is a crime that we use drinking water to water our lawns. I live in a very wet area and should be able to drill a well for outside watering.

    Life After Retirement - My Russian Adventure

  8. You're a fun teacher, Alana. Thanks for adding to my vocabulary with an X word that's actually meaningful.

  9. Alana,
    When the environment doesn't cooperate with us, we have to get smart AND creative about growing! Xeriscaping is both smart and creative. Growing things on the roof--that gave me pause. We have a BIG roof, but it's really high off the ground. Might be a risky proposition!


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