By Dr. Atif Riaz
Xeriscaping is the landscape phenomena of planting the perennials, shrubs, trees and turf that require low maintenance and less water use. Mostly it is popular in those regions that are facing low water supply, but recent drought and water shortages around the world has highlighted the extent of extravagance in keeping plant species alive which can only be possible by the absorption of water. To save water resources, Xeriscape is an idea of quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment. Xeriscape practices have long been advocated by landscape architects, landscape designers, and horticulturists with little adoption, while many people still confuse xeriscaping with "zero-scaping." Though both of these landscapes use less water than the traditional, but these are totally different in appearance and appeal. Zero-scaping is the landscape which consists mostly of concrete, stones or gravel, with perhaps a cactus or dull plants, while xeriscaping can look quite lush, cool, colorful and full of beautiful plants like any other landscape but maintained with water-efficient practices. For a successful sustainable landscape it takes an adjustment in the expectations that how a landscape should look like.
To cope with stress faced by landscape plants under drought, a careful planning for appropriate design and management strategy have a crucial role to play. The following approaches are followed to deal with the issues of water scarcity for landscaping:
- Use of appropriate design.
- Selection of suitable plant species.
- Use of efficient irrigation systems.
- Use of alternative water resources
- Use of appropriate management strategies of establishment and subsequent maintenance.
What is gained is a more natural landscape that saves a lot of water comparatively, uses less labor and chemicals in terms of pesticides, weedicides and fertilizers. Energy like electricity and fuel used for lawn mowing, hedge trimming and pruning can also be saved. Ultimately it requires a much more careful planning and later management than traditional landscapes, but establishing plant communities creates a landscape that becomes easier to maintain as it matures, requires less energy and is self-perpetuating.
About author: Dr. Atif Riaz is working as Assistant Professor at Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. He is specialized in the field of Floriculture and Landscape and currently working on development of a sustainable landscape strategy for stress conditions including, drought, salinity, and temperature extremes, by using plant species tolerant to these stresses.
Copyright Hortist, 2013