In Daoism, the Chinese religious and philosophical movement heavily involving the balance of Yin and Yang, there is a concept called Wu Wei. Roughly, this means a cultivated state of effortless action, such as when an athlete gets in the zone, a tai chi master throws someone off-balance without “strength,” or when an artist stops overthinking creativity and lets it flow out instead. Xeriscaping can be thought of as this idea for your lawn, carefully cultivating your yard into a low maintenance gardening setup through planting choices and landscaping design. And what does that mean for the environment? Little to no watering.
Xeriscaping literally means “dryscaping” and was conceived of as an alternative lawn management for drought affected areas, but don't let that trick you into believing that xeriscaping can’t work anywhere or that it isn’t full of beautiful, colorful garden life. The idea behind xeriscaping is to choose plants that are naturally equipped to survive the climate system you live in and to use efficient design to help conserve water and let the plants grow to their fullest on their own. That set of design principles can be applied to any climate. With a good local xeriscaping practice, you’ll be doing things like grouping plants based on water usage, designing around the contours of your yard to ensure efficient rainwater absorption and drainage, and planning around the fully-grown size of your plants to help cut the need for pruning. Xeriscaping doesn’t mean absolutely no lawn, but often cuts down lawns to a practical and easy to maintain patch you’ll use regularly. While xeriscaping does require the research, upfront costs, and time to make it all happen, there are plenty of reasons to try it out.
- Increased property value. You’re investing in a beautiful and low-maintenance landscaping design, so of course your property value will increase.
- Lowered water bill. The nice thing about preserving Earth's most precious resource is that it’ll also save you some money in the long run.
- Help the wildlife. A lawn attracts the occasional rabbit, but a xeriscape lawn will be a home to all sorts of songbirds, butterflies, bees, and other beautiful wildlife.
- Improve the soil quality. One of the major problems with overwatering is the destruction it causes to the soil, whereas with proper mulching and plant choices, the soil can stay healthy.
- Improves peace of mind. You get to spend less time taking care of your yard and more time actually enjoying it. And enjoying a beautiful garden can even improve your health.
Xeriscaping is so beneficial to both water conservation efforts and to improving the community that some local and state governments are even offering initiatives for you to do it to help offset the upfront costs. To borrow from Daoism again, “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step,” so if this all sounds interesting to you just take that first step by looking up some in depth local guides and seeing what your local regulations on it may be. And who knows, maybe in a few years you’ll be sitting in a gorgeous low maintenance lawn making a toast to the day you picked up your first xeriscaping book.