In many parts of the country, from California to Texas, green lawns of grass are not indigenous to the region. To make them work, you need copious amounts of water to keep them looking their best.
Non-native landscaping contributes to water shortages in some areas, resulting in strict watering restrictions, even in high-end gated communities such as Santa Luz in San Diego. The Santa Luz homeowners association requires that all landscaping is xeriscaped using only plants native to California.
Water shortages are growing. Nevada's Lake Mead has reportedly dropped to less than 40 percent of its full level, reports LakeMead.water-data.com. Texas has reported drought conditions for the last three years.
How can homeowners help?
By adopting a concept called Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is simply creating a landscape that features native plants that don't require extra watering and are capable of withstanding native drought conditions.
While the look of a xeriscaped garden or yard of cacti and hardy shrubs is very different from the lush carpet of St.Augustine or Bermuda grass, you can easily create attractive arrangements that demand less water.
The key to a successful xeriscape is the same as any other landscape, and that's paying attention to the site's shape, size, slope, sun, shade, and other conditions.
Your goal is create a "compatible alliance among the garden, landscape, and natural world," writes Gayle Weinstein, author of the Xeriscape Handbook.
Grasses, plants, and flowers that are "native" to your area can grow on the typical annual rainfall without additional watering needed. Additional benefits are less maintenance, fewer pests, and less fertilizer.
To start a xeriscape of your own, group plants and flowers with similar watering requirements in zones, so that any watering you need to do becomes more efficient. Add mulch to accent the plants and flowers, as well as to provide a healthy root environment, which also reduces the need for extra watering.
In some cases, artificial turf may be an option where it can be effectively used in small areas to accent flowers and plants.
Zoned areas may be broken up by walkways, berms (mounds), bits of turf, glass, walls, large boulders, river rocks, and other stones. The total effect can be quite beautiful.
No matter what part of the country you live in, you can adopt the principals of xeriscaping to create a more natural landscape for your home.