Xeriscape Maintenance

Even xeriscapes need some maintenance, though it will be less than a traditional landscape. The design of your xeriscape influences the amount of maintenance it will require. Because xeriscapes have a smaller turf area and fewer unadapted plants, they have fewer problems with disease and insect control and have lower demands for water and fertilizer. Using less water also means weeding and pruning will be less frequent. However, every constructed garden needs some pruning/mowing, pest control, feeding, weeding, and watering.

xeriscapes reel mower
Pruning & Mowing

Pruning is useful to stimulate plant growth and to trim away dead branches. It also helps to shape plants, like hedges. Using an ergonomically designed pruner makes this task a breeze. If pruning is needed, do it in the late winter or early spring before new leaves appear, when the plant is dormant. When xeriscapes are designed to accommodate the mature size of each plant, less pruning is needed to keep the size of plants in check.

Reducing the amount of water you put on your lawn and the amount of fertilizer you use will reduce how often you have to mow. Grass should be mowed when it is 1/3 higher than the recommended mowing height. If turf grass is cut too short it will stress the turf and dry out. Keeping it at the proper height helps to use less water. The clippings can be left in place to recycle nutrients into the soil

xeriscapes pest control
Pest Control

Many insects are essential for pollination and could be destroyed by chemical controls. Natural methods of pest control, like insecticidal soaps, lady-bugs and praying mantids are preferred over chemical pesticides. Even the installation of bird houses or bat houses can encourage natural insect control.

xeriscapes compost
Fertilizing

Native plants are adapted to the natural soil conditions and do not need fertilizer. The nutrients in the soil and decomposing mulch are sufficient. As it incorporates with the soil, organic mulch decreases in thickness. So, mulch should be reapplied annually to maintain the recommended depth. Composting is a good way to create a nutrient-rich mulch material for your plants.

Non-native grasses and plants do need extra nutrients to stay healthy. For turf areas, leave lawn clippings on the grass to enrich the soil and reduce the need for fertilizer. Fertilizer should be used only when necessary, no more frequently than once in the spring and once again in early fall. Using too much fertilizer is not a good thing. It creates the need for more frequent pruning and mowing, can damage plants, and wastes money.

xeriscapes weed
Weeding

Weed growth is discouraged in xeriscapes by targeted, reduced watering and heavy mulching. Sometimes dormant weed seeds germinate as a result of turning the soil, when creating a new xeriscape. The few weeds that do sprout can be removed manually. Using a hori hori garden knife makes weeding much easier. You will also need to periodically remove leaves and other debris.

xeriscapes weed
Watering

If you are using an automatic drip irrigation or sprinkler system, it will need to be regularly inspected for leaks and adjusted to match seasonal changes in the water needs of your xeriscape plants. It will also need to be adjusted as new plants establish root systems and no longer require as much water.

Over time as your xeriscapes become established, maintenance tasks will decrease.

Read more Xeriscapes.net blog posts about maintaining your xeriscape garden.


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