If you own property in a desert climate, there are a few facts that become apparent immediately. The most obvious one being that fresh clean water is precious. Without water, you do not have life. However, when you landscape with plants, shrubs, and trees that thrive in a low humidity, high heat and are able to thrive in an extreme temperature variation environment, the task becomes much simpler. Here are a few ideas that, over the years, I have seen produce exceptional results.
Water Sippers for Go Green With Low Water
– Plants: Low growing succulents such as hens and chicks add interesting variety, and are often used to highlight areas of a property. Though there are people who manage to use drip irrigation, which we will discuss in depth later, to grow traditional grass lawns, in my opinion this is not only wasteful of the limited water resources, it is also highly costly to maintain.
– Lawns: Grasses do not tend to thrive well in desert environments unless given shade during the summer months, and an abundance of water. Therefore, many homeowners choose instead to go with either a very small patch of grass they maintain, and then create an artificial lawn out of either pebbled rock materials or artificial turf materials to cover the bulk of the property’s outdoor areas. Some folks take it even further creating completely water free, or xeriscaping, with all artificial turf and rock combinations. (1)
– Shrubs: The right shrubs give a landscape a polished and pulled together look by not only creating borders and edging, but by acting as foils and backdrops to flowering plants. Shrubs can also add privacy to a property; in the desert, it is not that difficult to see things from a distance, and even large areas can easily feel not very private. It is not uncommon to see Oleander-which thrives in desert areas- grown for shade and privacy, or used to create border fencing. Growers should always take into consideration of the height and width of plants to ensure healthy root development and to prevent overcrowding over time. (2)
– Trees: Trees in the desert are often very soulful in appearance. Striking in their simplicity and ability to grow in temperatures that can soar to over 115 degrees Fahrenheight, trees are great sustainers of life in arid environments. Be careful to choose variety with low amounts or no thorns as desert trees (and cactus) often protect themselves in nature with sharp, pointed thorns than can cause pain and allergic or even poisonous reactions. (3)
With supplies easily found at your local hardware store, drip irrigation systems are relatively easy to install throughout your property. Try to create mini hillsides on your property and then your irrigation serves double duty as the run off waters not only the targeted plant, but also the plant life below it. You will need hosing, an outdoors faucet, a micro-sprayer (also called an emitter) and a filter and backflow protector. Drip systems are also incredibly useful for oddly shaped areas (patches of live grass lawn, or groups of shrubs, and certainly for trees.)
With a little effort, and planning it will not be long before you have your own desert oasis landscaped to perfection!