Excerpt from Capital News column “Gardening with Nature” by Gwen Steele November 21, 2011
“Lesson in Landscape Renovation”
The winner of the best small garden in the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s 2011 Xeriscape Garden Contest Awards was the Hyslop family. Sandy, Greg and their two children planned their landscape renovation together and did the work themselves in 2010.
The following is excerpted from Greg’s description of how they followed the Seven Principles of Xeriscape to create their attractive, water-wise front yard.
One: planning and design. First we assessed our needs: parking, walkways, retaining wall, lighting, seating and seasonal beauty. Second, we used pegs and ropes to make a grid and visualize the different ideas. Third, plants and mechanical considerations were planned.
Two: Soil preparation. We removed the thirsty maple tree (its roots extended twice as far as the canopy cover), the old traditional lawn and about twenty yards of sand and rock. Next, we rototilled down about eighteen inches then tilled in compost, peat (sorry we now know it is non-renewable), sawdust, other organics and new soil. After that, we added between four to eight inches of topsoil. Finally, we added approximately four inches of ogogrow premium mulch.
Three: Practical turf areas. We put in a patch of grass for each child, just the right size to lie on in the summer or make snow angels on in the winter. We used an “enviro-lawn” grass that requires less watering.
Four: Efficient irrigation. We set up two separate drip irrigation zones. Each zone has different types of emitters that can be adjusted to each plant’s needs. We have a large rain barrel that we use for supplemental watering. The overflow is used for low pressure drip irrigation. I have directed two of our downspouts to give some areas extra water.
Five: Appropriate plant selection. Before choosing, Sandy spent a great deal of time making many visits to nurseries in the area, a trip to the Summerland Ornamental Garden’s Xeriscape Gardens, and many walks around different neighbourhoods in different cities looking at water wise plant groupings. Light requirements have been taken into account.
Six: Mulching. All the garden beds have four inches of ogogrow premium mulch. No landscape fabric was used. We used rock mulch as ground cover around the perimeter of the house for fire protection and on the parking pad.
Seven: Garden maintenance. The children do the majority of the weeding. When they step out of line, they get to pull forty weeds which usually only takes them five minutes. Mowing, watering, pruning and pest control are all minimal. This project was a lot of work, but it has really paid for itself in time saved and enjoyment gained. All four of us are very proud of what we did.