Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reduce water without compromising style

Xeriscaping has the reputation of being wild looking, but a few classic types of landscape designs have always been drought tolerant. If these styles work with the architecture of your home, they could be the key to reducing your water bills without having to compromise on style.

- Spanish Colonial: this classic style originated in Spain but has been a historic style throughout all of California's history. It has clean lines and a lot of geometry. A few great xeriscape plants for this look include Bougainvillea, Kniphofia, and Rock Roses.

- Moorish: this style was born in the Middle East but can be seen throughout Spain and North Africa. Gardens in this style feel like exotic oases. Pattern is used frequently, particularly in beautiful mosaic tile work. A few waterwise plants for this style: Kangaroo Paw, Germander, succulents, Aloe, and Grevillea.

- French: this style saw its peak with the design of the palace at Versailles. It is a very regimented style that appeals to people who want order in the garden. The most common element is known as a parterre, a pattern created with carefully clipped short hedges that is typically viewed from above. The parterres are typically made from Boxwood hedges with a contrasting interior planting with either grey foliage, such as Licorice Plant, or colored flowers.

- Montecito: the Estates in Montecito are dotted with stately California Live Oaks, a tree species so drought tolerant that they are most frequently killed by overwatering. The Montecito style is a blend of classic geometry and a more natural integration with the California chaparral. Consider classic forms close to the house and a more wilderness aesthetic at the edges of the garden. Ornamanetal grasses are a wonderful accent in this style of garden.

Since many Estate Gardens in California existed long before irrigation on the scale we practice today was feasible, returning to a classic look can cut your water bills without cutting your curb appeal.

(Image) Alhambra-style garden at L'Ecurie, Hunting Valley, Ohio, the home of Iris W and Thomas V H Vail Sr, publisher of "The Plain Dealer"; designed in 1978.

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