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Create a carefree garden (Posted On: Tuesday, April 24, 2012)

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Save time and money, and have a garden that all of your friends are envious of by xeriscaping.  Xeriscaping is a method of gardening that uses little water and requires low maintenance. Now don’t let that mislead you into thinking I’m talking about deserts or a drought plagued, barren landscape.

Xeriscaping involves choosing plants that are appropriate to their site and

creating a landscape that can be maintained with little supplemental watering other than the first year of establishment.

Advantages of xeriscaping include water conservation, lower maintenance, and a garden that thrives with water that falls naturally during the growing season.  For the first year of a xeriscape garden’s life, the plants will require more water on a regular basis.  One inch of water a week is sufficient.  This is because they are establishing their root systems within the soil.

Be sure to use a rain barrel for watering your lawn or garden; you will save money, and help to reduce run-off and stress on municipal infrastructure.  Plants prefer water that is chlorine and bleach free to help maintain a healthy biotic community within the soil.  To purchase a rain barrel, contact the Environment Network in Collingwood

As with any garden, a xeriscape garden will take 1-3 years to become fully established.  It’s also important to remember that plants native to the Georgian Triangle area will thrive because they are accustomed to this environment. 

Introducing plants that are not native to the area creates many problems in the natural world that we may not notice.  Non-native species can become invasive and compete with our native species, which can lead to a lack of habitat for our native animals.  Often, non-native species bring with them diseases that our native species cannot fight off, and non-native species require more watering than our native species in order to remain healthy.

A myriad of interesting xeriscaping plants can be incorporated into your landscaping plan. Just to name a few plants native to the Collingwood area:

Wildflowers
• Bee Balm – Monarda didyma
• Wild Bergamont – Monarda fistulosa
• Indian Paintbrush – Castilleja coccinea

Vines
• Virginia Creeper – Parthenocissus Quinquefolia
• Ground Nut, Wild Bean – Apios Americana
• Glaucous Honeysuckle – Lonicera Dioica

Native Trees
• Tamarack, Eastern Larch – Larix Laricina
• White Spruce – Picea Glauca
• Red Maple – Acer Rubrum

By grouping plants by their water needs, using mulch and drought tolerant plants, you will be conserving on water usage. You will also have healthier gardens and landscapes.  Consider that everything you do in your yard and garden will eventually affect your water source and from there, any nearby bodies of water.

Our perception about the convenience and value of water is beginning to change.  By altering the landscape so that its water requirements are met largely by precipitation, you are reducing water consumption and contamination and further contributing to a healthier environment.

By:  Melanie Vollick.
Write Way Communications 

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