Monday, March 31, 2014

APRIL 2014

THINGS TO DO: 
Xeriscape. Whether you are converting an existing landscape or starting from scratch, xeriscaping is the way to go. Please do not mistake 'xeri' for zero. XERIscapes are lush and beautiful incorporating a wide variety of water efficient plants to create an oasis-like feeling. ZEROscapes use a few yuccas and cactus in a sea of heat retaining rock.
There are several steps in creating a successful xeriscape. The first is planning and design. During this step you will analyze your site and your outdoor living requirements. Draw a site plan that includes: existing features such as windows, trees, patios and driveways; views that you want to screen or protect; full sun, part shade and full shade areas; utility lines; the contours of the land that may allow you to take advantage of runoff. next decide what functions you would like your site to serve. The possibilities are areas viewed by the public (front yard), leisure areas (patios, the back yard, play areas for adults, children or pets, wildlife habitats), service areas (sheds, garbage receptacles), flower and vegetables garden areas and transitional areas that blend other use areas together. 

The next step is the plant step. Group plants according to their water needs. You may want to start with a mini-oasis near your home and decrease water use as you get further away. Decide the shape, size, water use and function of the plants you want and come to the nursery with that list to browse. We carry many drought tolerant native and non-native plants and provide you with a detailed planting guide to carry you through this step. Keep in mind that all native plants are not drought tolerant. Some exist naturally as understory plants or in riparian areas and tend to be moderate to even high water users.
Step three is improving the soil. If you plan to include beds or turf you will need to add Back to Earth Compost to the entire bed or turf area. For individual plants just improve the planting hole. The addition of this organic matter will provide nutrients and enable your soil to better absorb water.

Step four is to create appropriate turf areas. Decide how much grass, if any, will provide a functional benefit. If you need to plant a small lawn choose waterwise Buffalo and/or Blue Gramma. Existing turf areas can be replaced by colorful ground covers or mulch.

The fifth step is efficient irrigation. Install the appropriate irrigation system for the most effective watering. Turf areas are best watered by sprinklers, beds with bubblers and trees, shrubs and ground covers by drip emitters. If you must water by hand invest in a galvanized oscillator, water wand and a metal bubbler to cover all of your watering needs.

Step six is the one I write about all of the time. MULCH, MULCH, MULCH. Mulches cover the soil and reduce evaporation, maintain an even temperature and minimize weeds. Mulches include bark, compost and rock.
The seventh and final step is proper maintenance. Successful xeriscapes are "low" maintenance not "no" maintenance. Watering, fertilizing, pruning and controlling pests and weeds will ensure that your xeriscape develops into a healthy landscape. By following these steps and planning for the end result you want to achieve you will save time and money. Start today.

PLANT OF THE MONTH:
Acer ginnala. The Amur Maple is a deciduous shrub that grows at a moderate rate to a  height of 15 feet and can be pruned into a small tree. This Manchurian native blooms with small clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in early spring followed by red, winged seedpods. The toothed leaves are three lobed and 2-3" long. Being a true Maple the red fall color is spectacular. It is very cold hardy to at least 30 degrees below zero and a moderate water user. Plant this shrub outside a window where you can enjoy the fragrant flowers and fall color or, in tree form, off a patio for light shade.
 http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1196/1412713797_2014c84e2d_z.jpg

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