Gary Wade has some Xeriscaping tips.
Today, the south is facing one it's most serious threats.
As we grow and prosper in the south, there's more and more
demand for one of our most precious commodities: water.
Did you know that in 1965, the average person used about
50 gallons of water every day, today, the average person
uses 200. Add that to the growth many areas are having and
we've got a serious problem. We've rarely worried about
the quantity or quality of water in our part of the country.
In many areas we would get 40, 50 even 60 inches of water
a year. That's plenty to do just about anything we want.
But as you know many parts of the South are experiencing
And, as you can guess, the greatest demand for water is
in the summer where, listen to this, 60 % is used outside
your house. At first this surprised me but then I was looking
closely at the directions for my water sprinkler and I found
out that this one is pretty typical and applies about 300
gallons per hour! That's a lot of water! I knew our water
bill just about doubled in the summer but I had no idea
we were using so much..
So what are we to do? If we just stop watering our lawns
and gardens will turn to dust. Fortunately, there's been
lots of research done in water efficient landscaping. You've
probably heard the word. 'Xeriscape' or Xeriscaping' It
was actually coined in Colorado back in 1981. Xeriscape
comes from two words, Xeros, a greek word for dry and scape
for landscape. Today, there are over 40 states with xeriscape
programs. There is even a National Xeriscape Council in
A good xeriscape type landscape can reduce outdoor water
consumption without sacrificing the beauty and quality of
your garden. In fact, just modifying your watering schedule
by watering early in the day can provide significant water
savings. Xeriscaping is environmentally smart and it requires
less maintenance, less fertilizer and less chemicals and
above all less water. It just makes good gardening sense.
There are 7 steps to developing a xeriscape or xeriphytic
landscape and we want to spend a little time today looking
at the first one.
The first step involves planning and design. As you develop
a completely new landscape or are renovating an old one
think about function and purpose. There's a philosophy of
design that states that form should follow function. This
basically means that the form or shape of anything including
your landscape should follow or be based on its function
or purpose. In other words, make sure that every plant,
every element you choose for your landscape has a purpose
besides just looking pretty.
I want you to use good looking plants, don't get me wrong
but I want you to make sure that your plant choices solve
a problem or enhance the value of your life and landscape
as well as show off their aesthetic qualities. Let me show
you what I mean. When we moved in we had a severe slope
that needed something quick to stop the soil from eroding
down the hill on to the house. I noticed that Ivy already
very well established on the hill and behind our house.
Now truthfully, ivy isn't one of my favorite plants but
it was thriving here.
So, taking my cue from mother nature, I gathered about
100 very long vines from the vacant lot behind us, broke
up the ground and buried the vines about 1" beneath the
soil. Mulched it thickly with leaves and kept it watered
until the following spring. Ivy typically takes about 3
years to establish itself. I'm sure you've heard the saying,
"First year it sleeps, second year it creeps and third year
it leaps. Well with this approach you can jump start your
plants and cover a very large area in just a year or so.
The ivy on this slope has only been here a couple of years
and it's really filled in well. .
You see I picked a plant for reason other than beauty.
It does an excellent job stopping the erosion and it naturally
thrives in the area. Imagine if I had tried to get rid of
this ivy and start something else. It would be almost impossible.
One of the characteristics of a xeriphytic landscape is
you don't fight the site. Any changes to the existing landscape
needs to be very minor, very subtle You cut down on an enormous
amount of time, money and effort when you stop trying to
fix mother nature. DON'T FIGHT THE SITE IS A GOOD START
TO ANY XERISCAPE PLAN.
So take a good hard look at the existing plantings. If
they volunteered there, it is a good assumption that the
site conditions are perfect for that type of plant.
Helen Phillips from Callaway
Gardens shows us how to make a unique pond garden with a
Frog and a wheelbarrow. It's a low cost and unique idea
that takes little time to make.
Dr. Rick has some tips
for getting plants to grow in those troublesome shady areas.
As we deal with the heat and drought of summer lets continue
to look at xeriscaping or water-efficient landscaping as
a foundation for our gardening activities. One notion we've
discussed is the need to survey the site, to analyze your
property and select plants that naturally thrive in your
existing conditions. 'Don't fight the site' is an important
philosophy to embrace as you create your drought tolerant
This is particularly important if you have shady areas
in your landscape and here's why. A shaded garden can be
up to 20 degrees cooler than one in full sun, shade the
cooling unit on your air conditioner and you can cut the
cost of cooling your home by 10%. Most of your herbaceous
annuals and perennials, even the one's that love full sun
prefer a little shade in the afternoon, a siesta from the
heat. Because, herbaceous plants support themselves with
water pressure and it gets very difficult to pull up enough
moisture out of the ground and reduce transpiration to deal
with the temperatures and dryness we are seeing this season.
And, weeds hate shade. Did you know that some mature weeds
can distribute up to 20,000 weed seeds over its lifetime?
However, most weed seeds need direct sunlight to germinate.
In fact, in a typical cubic yard of garden soil there are
thousands of weed seeds. As long as the weed seeds are not
exposed to the UV rays of the sun, most won't germinate.
So, shade offers us and our landscape some real advantages
From a design standpoint, the shade garden has a great
deal of character. There is nothing as cool and inviting
as shade in the summer here in the South. There's an enormous
number of plants that thrive in the tones and undertones
of shade and there's nothing as fascinating to our eyes
as the way light dapples through the trees and creates a
checkered pattern on a path, a pond or shady border
Parker Andes from Callaway Gardens has tips on the care
of Oak Leaf Hydrangeas.
They're common in the South, hardy and low
maintenance, a great addition to your yard.
Dr. Rick demonstrates a rain and roof top retrieval method
that makes good use of rain coming from your gutters. Why
not direct that water to where it can do the most good.
With drought conditions predicted throughout the South
this summer, we need every trick to conserve water and make
the most out of what we get. There's no question that we
will have to turn the hose on now and then to irrigate our
garden but let's try to use every drop that falls on our
property. This approach is known as gutter gardening or
rooftop rain retrevial. Essentially what we want to do is
capture all the water that comes off the roof when it rains
and channel or direct it to specific parts of the yard.
I purposely planted my pumpkin patch next to this gutter
because it is the one that catches all the water off one
of the largest sections of our house.
Instead of allowing the water to flow down the hill
into the neighbor's yard, I am going to catch it with this
black plastic pipe and direct it to my vegetable garden.
I use one of these adaptors that connects the gutter to
the black plastic pipe and I dig a trench about 6'' wide
and just deep enough to allow the hose to be below the surface.
Now I've dug the trench in a circle around the pumpkin patch
as you can see and I lay the pipe in the trench and leave
the end pointing toward the middle, but above ground. Just
in case you have a gully washer, you don't want to restrict
the water coming off your roof and back up the gutters.
Now whenever it rains, every drop of water that comes off
the roof goes directly to this part of the garden and we
get a little rain through out the summer won't have to water
as often. Gutter gardening. It's a water saving easy way
to make the most out of the water that would typically just
run down the hill and be lost.
Dr. Rick has some
ideas about Termites. If you live in the south Termites
are a problem, we offer some ideas for fighting them.
Plants figured out something along time ago that makes
them very unpalatable to most animals including humans.
Larger plants that don't die to the ground every year are
mostly made from a very sturdy, very indigestible substance
known as cellulose. As a plant cell matures, their walls
become packed with millions of fibers of cellulose and they
become woodier and woodier until they become so woody that
it kills the cell. These cellulose fibers help the plant
stand and support itself but this growth process is an act
of suicide for the cell and a mature hardwood tree is made
up of mostly dead cells. There are very few organisms in
the world that can digest wood. But what about termites?
Believe it or not, they are unable to digest these cellulose
fibers and they're all microscopic. Certain types of bacteria
are the only organisms that can feed on cellulose. But what
about termites, can't they digest wood. Believe it or not
they can't do it alone, In their gut are millions of these
cellulose eating bacteria that break down the cellulose
into a form that can be used by the termite. That's why
termites can lives off of wood and can do billions of dollars
of damage each year. Termites are industrious pests that
thrive where the soil is slightly moist and there is a source
of food (point to wood).
A healthy termite colonies can reach 50,000 and they're
made up of several different types of members. Workers make
up the majority of the colony and are creamy white but cannot
reproduce. Soldier termites have huge heads and strong jaws
and protect the group from maurading ants and other insects.
There is also the reproductive swarmer termites that have
long, narrow wings, blackish bodies and big eyes. As with
most colony type insects, there is also one queen.
After a colony is 3-5 years and usually on a warm
spring day, the winged swarmer termites leave the colony
to start a new one. The swarmers are looking for a moist
area with plenty of food. Once they've found such a site,
they build extensive tube-like tunnels. If wood isn't touching
the soil, they may build mud tubes to it, to avoid contact
with outside air. Drying air is deadly to termites. It dries
them out and kills them.
Keep your eyes open for evidence of these hidden pests.
They can hollow out major structural supports in your house
or other structures but it usually takes between 3-8 years
for any extensive damage to occur. In some parts of the
south, New Orleans for example, one species, the Formosa
termite even hollows out large trees such as a live oak.
Key point: Keep untreated wood off the ground. If
you do use wood for decking or other outdoor structures,
select ground-contact pressure treated lumber. Now pressure
treated means it is imbedded with a chemical called penta
chlorophenol. And the amount varies. For example, you can
purchase lumber with a treated rating of .20. That's for
outdoor use but not ground contact such as the deck boards
on your deck. Anything that touches the ground needs to
have a rating of .40 or higher. Believe me termites wont
touch this stuff for decades.
I'm a huge fan of mulch and I really need to be careful
about how I use it and where I place it especially near
my house. Avoid piling mulch up against the house. A light
application is OK but several inches near the base of your
house, especially if the ground stays wet and you're asking
for trouble. Avoid stacks of untreated lumber or wood piles
next to the house. Just keep these dry and away from your
home and you'll be fine. Lately there is a new system that
is proving very effective in encouraging termites to move
away from your house rather than toward it. See this black
pipe-like structure. It's actually filled with an attractant
that lures termites to it. They feed on it and it kills
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