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Xeriscaping

The word xeriscape was originally a trademark of the Denver Colorado Water Department and comes from the Greek word Xeros which means dry. It is pronounced zir-i-scape. It is generally the accepted term for water conserving landscaping. Since the 1980's the concept has been adopted by the desert Southwest, and the states of California and Florida as well as other areas. Homeowners who adopt this idea for their landscaping can reduce their water consumption by 25 to 75%. It does not require any additional work but does require careful planning to reduce the areas of the lawn planted with water guzzling grass and substituting with ground cover or mulched beds. Grass is then treated as the accent in the landscaping plan and not the main lawn covering.

 

 The yard is divided into xeriscape zones; the oasis zone is nearest to the house and hardscaped areas ( driveways, sidewalks, patios etc.) followed by the drought tolerant and natural zones. The oasis zone will contain the plants that require frequent watering and maintenance and should be the smallest zone in the landscaping plan. Consider plants in pots ( instead of the routine flower beds), drip irrigation and containers to catch rain water. Any plant can be used in xeriscaping as long as it is planted in the appropriate zone.

The drought tolerant zone will contain the plants that only need to be watered when there has been no rain for about 7 to 10 days. The natural zone will be the farthest from the house and will contain, once they are established, those plants that thrive with just rainfall. Mulching cools soil in the summer and warms it in the winter. It soaks up moisture and prevents evaporation and soil erosion. Florida does have a dry period, usually September through June, and our soil can be dry and sandy . Rain tends to run right off without soaking in, with the exception of mulched areas. Non-porous hardscapes tend to let water run off into the sewers and storm drains. Consider wood decking or gravel instead of concrete patios. Since rain water is only available after a rain, think of the uses for "greywater" (check with your local municipality about this). Some cities, such as St. Petersburg, offer recycled water. They reuse all waste water and don't empty into the surrounding waterfront. This reclaimed water is available at a reduced rate for lawns and is separate from drinking water.

Besides drought tolerance, the amount of required light, shade, and soil requirements must be taken into account. Shade trees in Florida are an absolute must! Using native plants that have adapted to our environment should be the first choice in any landscaping plan. Most of Florida's soil is slightly acid to nearly neutral pH except for the Florida Keys and other areas with hard shell. Along the coast, salt tolerance is a major factor. Also, composting can help any soil while xeriscaping overall reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. If you know the needs of each plant in your yard , you'll automatically water more wisely.

Florida has 5 water management districts, laid out by hydrological boundaries, whose authority is delegated through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection by the Florida Legislature. Their jobs are to protect Florida's natural water systems through long range planning and education as well as regulation.

All Webcoast's counties, with the exception of part of Polk County, are in the jurisdiction of the Southwest Florida Water Management District located at 2379 Broad St. in the town of Brooksville, in Hernando County, Florida 34609-6899. Telephone number is (904) 796-7211.

Do Your Part in conserving water.

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