What is a DRY LANDSCAPE?



(Gordon Mackay in Jim Borland's naturalesque unirrigated Denver Garden. June 2012)

What is an unwatered garden or unirrigated landscape?  
First, yes: it is possible.  Secondly, yes: it is rare. Very rare, if existent, and that is why it must be pushed.  It is possible because there are plant-rich natural (as well as unnatural) places that grow and exist without human help. It is rare because it takes a deep understanding and knowledge of such plants and their subtleties to accomodate them deliberately without the benefit of supplemental water, which would otherwise make a given site easily accomodating.  

In Drylandscaping, irrigaiton can also be treated as optional- it may be done to simply perk-up the plants once per year, or a couple times; as opposed to water being essential for survival. Native plants are an important if exclusive source to address such needs.  Think of it as gardening with wildflowers.  It is unlike normal gardening or landscaping.

Yet more care must be taken to engineer the use of natural irrigation: rain.  Downspouts and swales are utilized, and natural patterns of soil-moisture accumulation are aknowledged.

Why? 
To save money, save work/time, and save the environment.
Let us evict that smelly corner of the garage dedicated to fertilizers, lawn mowers (and all their maintenence bliss) and a certain monthly bill. 

The goal is to avoid the abuse of an irrigation system, which can breed complacency while amazing-tons of water are continually poured over the soil effortlessly. (I have been guilty of this myself)  It is also to make watering unnecessary or optional, so that you may leave town for a weekend, or a year, and return to a living landscape.  Lastly, excessive water leads to excessive growth, which demands pruning, which is more work!

Studies show that native plants, on average, supply greater "Ecological Services" to local wildlife. (That is not to say exotics don't) Birds, bees, and the plethora without pronouncable names need their natural buffet.

Unwatered landscapes are beginning to appear in other parts of the country, even the desert Southwest.  Those folks are beginning to be forced into it.  Let us volunteer ourselves before we, too are forced out of necessity.

The real question is:
Why not?
If dryland gardens are so great, why don't more folks do it?  
Education.

No comments: