All Californians have a responsibility to use water wisely. That responsibility extends to our yards, where there are many ways to reduce water use while maintaining beautiful landscapes.
Landscaping with plants that demand less water is called xeriscaping. “Xeriscape” is a term that derives from the Greek word xeros (meaning dry) and was coined by a water department task force in Denver in 1978. It refers to water-wise, climate-appropriate gardening.
Xeriscaping is not necessarily a barren, parched look or a no-maintenance (e.g., all-rock) approach. Xeriscapes can have lushness and color.
Besides lowering water bills, xeriscapes utilize plants that are attractive yet generally low-maintenance, less susceptible to disease, and more resistant to pests. They also are more wildlife-friendly and more likely to attract beneficial insects.
Any plant we grow needs to handle the extremes our area experiences, such as high heat (summer temperatures that can reach over 110 degrees), occasional winter freezes (as cold as 14 degrees), seasonal drought (no summer rain), drying winds, heavy clay soil, alkaline water and high levels of boron and other minerals.
In the next few columns, I plan to introduce some of the many plant options that are available to Tracy and Mountain House gardeners that will not only save water and require less maintenance, but also beautify the landscape of any home.
• UC-certified Master Gardeners are available to answer your gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be submitted to email@example.com.