This guest post is by Lindsay Mineo of www.palatinremodeling.com.
Use natural landscaping and xeriscaping to benefit the environment and your curb appeal
Having a great looking front yard is crucial to curb appeal, and a well planted back yard will encourage the family to spend more time outdoors playing together, but natural landscaping can have a boring connotation. Unless you live in the Amazon, chances are your thoughts about natural landscaping exclude year-round flowering plants and lush gardens, but this doesn’t have to be true at all. Even if you live in a place like Los Angeles, which is essentially desert and concrete, you can have a beautiful front yard and inviting back yard by using natural landscaping. Plus, natural landscaping is ideal for the environmentally conscious homeowner because it fosters a habitat for native species, reduces the likelihood of invasive species growth and can reduce your water consumption and waste.
What is xeriscaping?
Xeriscaping is landscape design that reduces supplemental water consumption as much as possible, as in planting plants that get enough moisture from the environment without needing a sprinkler system. Homes in any environment can use xeriscaping in their design plans, whether your climate receives half an inch of rain a year or 12 inches of rain a year. There are plenty of attractive plant species that exist naturally in every climate and by using more native species in your landscape design you can dramatically reduce your water bill and the negative impact you have on your environment. Dry climates are heavily encouraged to adopt xeriscaping, especially because as a whole we tend to use more water than is naturally available to us (lawns require a massive amount of water to sustain them even in wetter environments, making them ecologically absurd in desert climates like Southern California). Instead, xeriscaping opens up the realm of possibility to include flowering succulents, drought-resistant trees and plants that change with the seasons, even if your seasons aren’t very pronounced.
Because plants and soil work together, design your xeriscape in a way that groups plants together in a way that acknowledges how they use water to maximize water retention. If native plants in your area require a certain type of soil, make sure that’s the soil you’re working with or your plants won’t thrive as well as they could. Also consider using mulch, river rocks or compost to enhance your existing soil, prevent weeds and retain water.
The benefits of natural landscaping
By selecting plants that naturally exist in your area, you’re benefiting the environment but also benefiting yourself. First, native plants will encourage healthy soil and healthy soil benefits all of the plants in your yard. The more native plants you use in your landscape design the more you’re paying tribute to the way your home was before the house was built, providing a space for native birds and insects to gather. Natural landscaping saves water, which is scarce in most developed areas, because your beautiful yard will absorb enough water from the morning dew and seasonal rain to sustain itself.
Second, native plants will thrive much better than non-native plants and will require much less time, effort and expense on your part to keep them looking great and giving you the curb appeal you want. This means you’ll be able to sit back and relax far sooner thanks to your manageable landscape than your neighbor who insists on using lilies and grass. Plus, by using native plants and grouping them in an intentional manner you can dramatically decrease the amount of water needed to keep them healthy, often completely eliminating the need to provide supplemental watering in the form of a sprinkler system or watering can, saving hundreds of dollars a year on your water bill.
When you’re planning your landscape design, ask your designer about native plants. You might be surprised to learn that there are some very attractive native plants that will contribute to curb appeal, encourage outdoor activities and foster other native species. By incorporating a range of native species in your natural landscape design, you can achieve flowering trees and plants throughout most of the year and cultivate a sustainable, easily managed, attractive yard that rivals the greenest lawns. If you already have a landscape and are interested in making it more native friendly, replace plants as they wither with native selections and slowly build your natural landscape, incorporating rock steps, bird feeders and baths, and other native additions for a yard that welcomes everyone.
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