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Water Blog

Gardening With Microclimate Zones

Each plant in the landscape has ideal conditions under which it thrives. These conditions have to do with the availability of sunlight, yearly temperature ranges, soil type, soil drainage, and water needs. Xeriscapes take advantage of the varying conditions and microclimates which exist in every landscape. Microclimates are created by differences in moisture, sun, shade, air movement and heat within your yard. For example, reflected light from south and west facing structures creates high temperatures, which in turn increases the loss of water from nearby plantings. Unfortunately, plants are often selected solely for their aesthetic appearance, without consideration of environmental needs.

Very Low Water Zone

Centranthus ruber-6This is the lowest water zone in a Xeriscape and provides the most significant savings when compared to traditional landscaping. Here, irrigation is needed only to establish new plantings. Once they have been set, the plants in this zone require little, if any additional water. Plants in the very low water zone need to be selected carefully by minimal water use.  Some examples include:

Low Water Zone

Callirhoe involucrata-1Within this zone, careful selection of an efficient drip irrigation system will conserve tremendous amounts of water. Plants growing in this zone will require more water than is available from natural precipitation - which need not be provided entirely by an irrigation system. Instead, take advantage of runoff from downspouts, driveways, or patios. During very dry periods, small amounts of supplemental irrigation may be needed.

Moderate Water Zone

Coreopsis verticillata-5Even though this zone uses the most water, it still uses less than most traditional landscapes. This zone should be kept small and functional in size. It could be considered a mini-oasis and is best used when incorporated into your landscape design as a focal point, or area of high use, such as the entrance area or the turf/lawn. Use a low water turf type grass in this area.

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