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An Overview of Xeriscaping: An Interview with Benjamin Crouch of Land of Plenty Gardens

By Benjamin Crouch

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Land of Plenty is a small organic gardening and landscaping company based in Jamaica Plain, MA. I founded it in 2009 to work with residential, non-profit and commercial clients in and around Boston to grow better gardens with fewer resources. We meet our clients needs in the greenest ways possible and work to create gardens that are beautiful, edible, good for wildlife and easy to maintain.

Please explain the concept of "Xeriscaping".

Xeriscaping is landscaping that requires no irrigation once plants establish. It literally means "dry landscaping", but a xeriscape approach can be applied where it is either undesirable or difficult to incorporate irrigation. A xeriscape uses plants that are well-adapted to the environment. Alternately, gardens can be designed to eliminate the need for irrigation through water conservation. Mulching, runoff capture through "rain gardening" (a system of gardening that creates a fast-draining swail for capturing influxes of rain water), and rain barrels are all ways to retain rain water for use in a landscape.

In your opinion, why is it important to include xeriscaping within a landscape design?

In the Northeast we generally have an ample water supply, but why stress it if you don't have to? Irrigation is expensive to install and maintain. Designing a garden that grows on rain water is least costly in the long term. Irrigation (especially overhead sprinklers) is also a prime culprit for incubating and spreading diseases in plants. Wet leaves are breeding grounds for bacteria and fungus. In addition, irrigation leaches nutrients out of soil at a faster rate and contributes to the pollution of waterways.

What are some common gardening practices that waste water?

Overhead watering (by hand or system), watering too fast, and watering in the heat of the day waste a lot of water. Most of the water released through overhead sprinklers evaporates or runs off because the ground can't absorb it as quickly as it flows. If you must irrigate use drip irrigation and time it for the early morning (starting pre-dawn is best). Watering in the morning reduces evaporation. Drip irrigation uses emitters on or just below ground surface that open at low pressure to irrigate slowly and evenly. Water deeply and infrequently to establish a garden instead of for 10 minutes per day through a hose nozzle. Plants will grow deeper roots and become drought tolerant. Also, keeping a green lawn in summer entirely composed of grass is a huge waste of water on an unfortunate modern trend. Conventional lawns need far more water than their alternatives.

What is the first thing you suggest for attempting to make a garden more receptive to dryer conditions?

A smart design. Think like nature and plan your garden. Put the right plants in the right places. Divert runoff to recapture it. Leave no space un-greened unless a stone occupies it.

What is your best tip you can offer to someone who is looking to create a beautiful yard but also adhere to water conservation?

Every yard is a different situation, but generally people could use a lot less lawn and manage it much better. Lawns function well as places to gather and play, but consider how much space you need to do those things. Mowing is the only activity that many people perform on their lawns. Consider whether gardening wouldn't be time better spent.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

You can find us on the web at www.landofplentygardens.com or contact me, Ben Crouch, at 617-935-4025 or bencrouchorganics@gmail.com.

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About The Author

Owner Benjamin Crouch launched Land of Plenty in January 2011 to broaden the reach of...

Phone: 617-935-4025

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