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Xeriscaping: Going Forward by Looking Back

April 9, 2012

By Max Walker

Mid-Missouri gardeners looking for a way to go even green-er might want to try a program from the Western states: xeriscaping.

Xeriscaping is a form of gardening based on water conservation. Denver Water coined the term in 1981 to put a name to the concept.  It’s based on seven principles:

1) Planning and designing
2) Limiting turf areas
3) Selecting and zoning plants appropriately
4) Improving the soil
5) Using mulch
6) Irrigating efficiently
7) Maintaining the landscape

Using the concepts of xeriscaping has a variety of benefits, including reducing water use by 50%, eliminating the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and increasing property values.

The program has been particularly effective in Western states where droughts are more common and more severe. Tucson, Pomona, Farmington and many other cities in the Mountain and Pacific time zones host xeriscape competitions or have college departments dedicated to xeriscape. But the phenomenon has spread across the nation. The University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Clemson University have all addressed xeriscape concepts.

In Missouri, Ozarks Technical Community College offered a class on xeriscape planting and Springfield has a xeriscape garden:

Columbia Water and Light has a resource page for those interested in using native plants in a xeriscape project, as well as a map to its own xeriscape garden at Twin Lakes Park.

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