by Meredith Hale
Using native plants in a garden isn’t a new idea, but it definitely has become more popular in recent years as homeowners try to reduce their carbon footprint along with reducing expenditures. Xeriscaping is a great way to support the local environment as well as cut down on time spent working in the garden. Check out how xeriscaping can add style to your outdoor living space as well as save you some cold hard cash.
What Is Xeriscaping?
Xeri-what? If you are seeing this word for the first time, you may be wondering both how to pronounce it as well as wondering what in the world it is! Xeriscaping, pronounced zeer-i-skey-ping, is a type of environmental design that uses plants that don’t require a lot of water. The term was actually created in the 1980s as way to describe this particular kind of garden technique that is good for the environment.
Xeriscaping oftentimes incorporates the use of native plants due to their ability to thrive without the need for extra water as well as other landscape elements, like stone or bark dust, that help to reduce the amount of water consumption needed. Many xeriscapes include cutting down the amount of lawn around a home in order to replace that space with items that don’t require any additional water other than what the climate provides.
RELATED: A Little Extra Attention in the Garden
Why Try Xeriscaping?
Many Arkansas homeowners are choosing to try xeriscaping because it cuts down on the amount of water a home uses over the course of a year. Water bills are less, without the constant need for watering the lawn, which is great for lowering the average water bill but it also allows the water that would have been used on the lawn to be redirected for other uses within the environment.
Another reason to try xeriscaping involves the natural support system that it provides the local environment. By incorporating native plants into the design, xeriscapes provide a natural buffet to area pollinators who need those plants to build a better ecosystem. Native plants also can naturally thrive in the area’s climate and only need the moisture that the climate provides. This makes native plants an easy choice for xeriscaping as they will virtually take care of themselves with little care needed from homeowners.
Time is another key factor as to why many Arkansans are choosing to xeriscape their outdoor living spaces. Plants that live in the area naturally don’t require a lot of fuss in terms of maintenance and watering. Homeowners won’t be spending a lot of time watering the plants or maintaining their leaves or shape due to the fact that the plants can naturally thrive in the area without the need for a lot of human interaction.
RELATED: The Right Tools for Successful Gardening
What Plants Are Native to Arkansas?
You may see these native plants in meadows or along roadsides and think that they shouldn’t be used in a garden. However, there are numerous native plants can thrive within an Arkansas xeriscape. Beautiful flowers like the purple coneflower, Cardinal flower, butterfly milkweed, bee balm and Carolina larkspur are just a few varieties that will naturally thrive and add color to any xeriscaped garden. Ferns are a popular choice in Arkansas like the cinnamon fern and the marginal wood fern.
Xeriscaping is commonly known to replace some or all of your lawn, however, if you choose to replace only parts of it you’ll want to make sure that the ones used are grass types that thrive in Arkansas. You can also choose to use native ornamental grasses that add both height and interest to a xeriscape with options including the Blue-Eyed Grass, Indian Grass, and Switchgrass. Native trees can also be used in a xeriscape including the Shortleaf Pine, Black Oak and Sugar Maples that provide a natural shade option for those who use the yard as well as important shade for homes in order to further reduce cooling costs in the summer.
Xeriscaping may sound a bit unusual, but the idea of using native plants in a cultivated garden is a natural and easy choice for many Arkansas homeowners. Choosing to replace parts or all of your lawn with a xeriscape cuts down on constant watering costs as well, as time spent learning and implementing proper lawn care practices. The idea of xeriscaping has taken hold across the country and is being touted as an excellent way to support the environment on a continuous basis. Consider xeriscaping your own yard to add style to your home as well as save you money on the water bill.
Meredith Hale is a gardening and landscape writer, and design addict. She has coordinated the design on many house flipping projects, admitting that her favorite part is creating inspired outdoor spaces.
RELATED: Gorgeous Arkansas Gardens