Gardening and Xeriscape

  Gardening and Xeriscape

What Is Xeriscape, Anyway?

Xeriscape is gardening for dry climates. The idea is to use primarily native plants and to worry a whole lot less about how green your lawn is. One good reason for this is because all the watering it takes to keep an unnaturally green lawn in desert climes increases the mineral content by washing salt and other elements into the soil through the use of sprinklers and hoses. If we keep this up for very long, the soil will not support native grasses, never mind bermuda grass and roses.

And anyway, it just makes sense to work with the environment you have, and not try to make everyplace look just like everyplace else. The native plants and the airy style required by our arid climate have a beauty all their own. You just have to slow down to appreciate it.

So here are a few links, and I hope they will grow. If you know of a site on the Net that has good information about gardening in dry West Texas and the arid southwest, please Email Me and let me know.

Xeriscape Plants for Midland and Odessa, Texas
Based on the list from the local county extension office, this list of annuals, perennials, shrubs,  trees, vines, ornamental grasses and groundcovers that have low water requirements and grow well in this area include links (where found) to the plant database at Dave's Garden so you can get more detail, often including photos, growing tips, and insights by gardeners who've grown these plants.
Sustainable Living Sourcebook: Xeriscape
This site has a clear definition of xeriscape and includes details on the seven basic steps to xeriscaping along with other guiding principals. Though it is clearly written for an Austin audience, it covers the subject well enough for anyone to get a grasp.
Texas Native Trees
Texas A&M provides a thorough database of native trees including images and information on habits, foliage, suitability, and flowers. Includes a zone map of Texas.  
Landscape Water Conservation...Xeriscape
Another Texas A&M resource includes information on the principles of xeriscape as well as tables listing a variety of plants -- both natives and non-natives (clearly delineated) -- for use by region within Texas.
Ornamental Plants for Far West Texas (El Paso)
Still with Texas A&M we have a set of pages focusing on plants suitable for the El Paso area.
Native Plant Society of Texas
Includes contact information for local chapters of the society, links, events, plant lists and more.
Plants of the Southwest
My favorite supplier of seeds and plants for New Mexico and the surrounding area. Their online catalog reflects their printed catalog, providing not only lots of lovely images and descriptive text, but a fistful of philosophy as rich as well-cared-for soil. Note that their web prices may be out of date; ask when you make an order. Also tell them that you enjoyed their site on the web, which will encourage them to add more and keep it up-to-date.
Natives of Texas
Specializing in native plants for the Hill Country, including the magical Madrone tree (the one with the ever-changing bark).
Native Sons Nursery
This Knoxville Tennessee mail order nursery specializes in monocots (orchids, iris, lilies and their relatives) and ferns. Pages for the individual plants have nice photos and details on care for each plant. They carry one of my favorites, Blue-eyed grass
High Country Gardens
Another site with a fair selection of native plants.
Toadshade Wildflower Farm
Online ordering, plants shipped in pots, and a list sorted by species, common name, favored growing conditions, and resistance to browsing by deer.
American Meadows
A Vermont seed company but they have plants suitable for a wide variety of climates.
You can order bulk quantities of grasses here, including many natives. They even have a site dedicated to horse pasture grasses.
Native American Seed
A very nice site encouraging the use of native plants. Also a mail order catalog aimed primarily at Texans (click on the "Wildflower and Native Grasses" link), and a good start at doing some community building in the "Native Gardener's Corner" section. Be sure to read their "Who we are, what we're about" section for a little philosophy and a lot of telling information on the owner's evolution into the use of native seed.
Grand Prairie Friends: Native Plants Resources
A list of Native Plant Societies organized by state, along with several other resources.
Sibley Nature Center
Some information on native plants in West Texas can be found here. Best of all, here you can find Burr Williams, our resident xeriscape expert, and ask him questions.
Kimas Tejas Nursery
Does not have an online catalog, but has a nice description of various forms of natural pest control, as well as a message board where you can post questions.

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Copyright 1999 Linda Blanchard All Rights Reserved. Date Added: February 3, 1998. Last Update: January 07, 2009.