The term often associated with conservation landscapes is xeriscaping.
Literally, xeriscape means "dry landscape" but that doesn't have to mean
cactus and gravel. A xeriscape is one that is designed, installed, and
maintained in harmony with the existing climate, microclimate, and site
conditions. This minimizes the need for supplemental resources like
water and fertilizer while saving you both time and money.
I. Water Conservation
The fundamental element of Xeriscape design is water conservation. Landscape designers constantly look for ways to reduce the amount of applied water and to minimize the use of natural precipitation.
II. Soil Improvement
The ideal soil in a water-conserving landscape does 2 things simultaneously: it drains quickly and stores water at the same time.
III. Limit Turf Areas
Reduce the size of the turf areas as much as possible, while retaining some turf for open space, functionality, and visual appeal. When planting new turf or reseeding lawns, ask your local garden center for water-saving plant species adapted to your area.
IV. Use Appropriate Plants - Native
For best results, select plants that are native to your region. Drought-resistant plants have leaves that are usually small, thick, glossy, silver-grey, or fuzzy. Select plants for their ultimate size, which helps to reduce pruning maintenance. For more information, view a list of drought resistant plants in North Carolina.
Cover the soil's surface around plants with a mulch, such as leaves, coarse compost, wood chips, gravel, bark, or pine needles. To prevent erosion and block out competing weeds, use mulch to help retain soil moisture and temperature. Organic mulch slowly incorporates into soil, and will require "top dressing" or the application of more from time-to-time. For more information, use the mulch and landscape calculator website.
When irrigating, avoid overwatering by using drip-irrigation systems and soaker hoses for the easiest and most efficient watering techniques for xeriscaping. Both methods deliver water to plants at a slower rate, encouraging root absorption and reducing erosion and pooling. Additionally, these methods reduces moisture loss due to evaporation and promote deeper and less frequent watering.
Perhaps the greatest benefits of xeriscaping is the lack of maintenance and care required to maintain it. Consequently, weeds that develop through layers of mulch may require applying thicker layers to prevent it from recurring. The presence of tall grass provides a natural mulch, shading for plant roots, and helps with water retention.