Water Efficient Landscapes Don't Have to be Bland
National surveys have shown a renewed interest in gardening. Business at nurseries and gardening centers is booming.

As more people discover the joys of planting seeds, plants, shrubs and trees, concerns have been raised about matching gardeners' desires with the vagaries of Nebraska's climate.

Few novice or experienced gardeners want to become daily water-bearers for thirsty plants. Before you plant, you might want to explore the vast range of water-wise plants native to Nebraska or suitable in this climate.

By incorporating Xeriscaping concepts into your planting and landscaping, you can reduce water consumption by 40-80 percent and enjoy greater rates of plant, shrub and tree survival.

The Seven Steps
The following seven basic principles of landscaping have been adapted for reducing water use in gardens and lawns:

  1. Planning and Design.Consider soil and light conditions, drainage, existing plants to be kept, level of maintenance desired, plant and color preferences and cost
  2. Soil Improvements.Mix compost or peat moss into the soil before planting to help the soil retain water. If your yard is sloped, reduce water run-off with terraces and retaining walls.
  3. Practical Lawns.Limit the amount of area devoted to grass. Plant groundcovers or add hard surface areas like patios, decks or walkways. When replanting lawn areas, use drought-tolerant grass seed mixes.
  4. Plant Selection.Choose from among the many types of low- water-using trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers. Many need watering only in the first year or two after planting.
  5. Efficient Irrigation. Install drip or trickle irrigations systems for those areas that need watering. These systems use water efficiently and are available from commercial garden centers.
  6. Effective Use of Mulches.Use mulches like pine needles or shredded bark or leaves in a layer three inches deep. This keeps soil moist, smothers weeds and prevents erosion.
  7. Regular maintenance. Properly timed pruning, fertilizing, pest control and weeding will preserve your landscape's beauty and water efficiency.

Xeriscaping \

'zer i skap ing\ : (from the Greek xeros for dry and from the Dutch landscap region, tract of land).

1: Replacing traditional landscaping with drought-tolerant plants, shrubs and trees 2: Using a variety of techniques to reduce water consumption by plants.

Get to Know the Natives
The following identifies water-wise perennials suitable for growing in Nebraska.
Common Name Bloom Time Notes
Asters Golden and Fendler's July-September Native plants
Beebalm June-August Attracts butterflies
Black-eyed Susan July-August Native plant
Blanket Flower June-August
Boltonia August-October
Butterfly Milkweed July Attracts butterflies
Cone flowers Purple and Grayhead Prairie June-August Native plants
Coreopsis June-August
Daylily Various Range of colors and bloom time
False Indigo May Good for drying
Gaura July-September Native plant
Gayfeathers Rough and Kansas August-September Native plants
Goldenrod August-September Native plant
Leadplant June-July Native plant
Missouri Primrose May-July Native plant
New Jersey Tea May-July Native shrub
Pasque Flower April-May
Penstemon Various Native plant
Pitcher Sage July-September Native plant
Prairie Baptista May Native plant
Prairie Gentian June-August Native plant
Prairie Phlox June
Prairie Smoke June-July Native plant
Purple Poppy-mallow June-August Native groundcover
Rattlesnake Master July-August
Rose Verbena June-August Native plant
Rose Prairie Wild May-June Native shrub
Sedum August-October
Sneezeweed August-September Native plant
Western Ironweed July-September Native plant
Wild Petunia June-September Native plant

The material in this article is based on information provided by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Prairiescape and the University of NebraskaLincoln, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension.