Southwest landscaping design features elements of xeriscaping, which is landscaping that is concerned with water conservation and sustainability. The arid climate of the southwest United States has produced water restrictions in many areas, which in turn has led homeowners interested in landscaping to pursue more sustainable options. Gone are the days of imported Kentucky bluegrass and other non-native turf grasses that drain local water tables. Sustainable landscaping in the southwest and other arid regions now calls for making use of native plants that have evolved to thrive in drier air and soil.
There are several ways to reduce water consumption in a southwestern-themed landscape. Extensive use of succulents, the family of plants to which cacti belong, will bring vibrant color and drought resistance to any garden. In fact, most common problem that DIY landscapers have with succulents is overwatering. Soil in which succulents are planted must also have excellent drainage or the plants may be susceptible to rot. There are succulents of all shapes and sizes, and many cacti also possess beautiful blossoms at different times during the year. Reducing the amount of planted surface area will also reduce water consumption. DIY landscapers can increase hardscape space by expanding porches, patios, and driveways. Layers of small stones approximate the aesthetic of a Zen garden while simultaneously reducing necessary watering locations down to the planting islands themselves.
As for aesthetics, many southwestern landscapes take advantage of the earthen tones common in drier regions. The sparse backdrop of browns, yellows, and oranges means that each plant’s greenery becomes a focal point. Homeowners can choose to maximize this effect by attempting an “oasis” look, one that utilizes greenery and the luxurious blossoms of succulents to their fullest. This requires somewhat more water, however, and DIY landscapers will want to clear anticipated water usage with the local municipality prior to planting.
Shade is also important, both for more delicate plants and for homeowners wishing to sit out in their garden. The amounts of sunlight and heat in arid climates can be restrictive. If DIY landscapers wish to make use of their garden during the hottest hours of the day, arbors or larger porches are useful in deflecting some of the sunlight. Homeowners must be careful here, however, as succulents and other arid regional plants require a high daily quota of sunlight. Homeowners must work to preserve the balance of sun and shade in their landscape. This may be done by careful planning in the planting stage, as well as pre-determining the dimensions of any shade-providing structures.
Tags: southwest, landscape, homeowner, arid, DIY, shade