For The Answer
Low water use landscaping in San Antonio can be anything you want it to be. We have enough plants to choose from that we can have a lush green look, 12 months of color or even all groundcover and still not use much water. If you want to view many of the options, there are 5 different theme landscapes at the Botanical Garden. The low water landscapes represent hill country, manicured, cottage garden, wildscape and Spanish courtyard. There is even a high water use landscape so you can compare it to the manicured xeriscape. The manicured xeriscape uses zoysia grass and Asiatic jasmine to replace St. Augustine grass. They look the same but one landscape has the capability to survive a severe drought and the other will not fare well unless it can be watered.
The best plan is to visit the landscapes at the Botanical Garden. Each one has an information sign listing the plants and characteristics. The same information is on the SAWS website in the Conservation section. If you visit the Watersaver Lane on Saturday between 9am and 3pm look for the Master Gardener on duty at the Hill Country Cottage. They can answer your xeriscape gardening questions.
For more information on Xeriscape landscaping, the Garden Volunteers of South Texas (GVST) are sponsoring a short program at the Mission Ridge Neighborhood today, Saturday November 20th, at 10 am. Mission Ridge is on Blanco at Mission Ridge. It is 1.3 miles inside of Loop 1604 and .25 miles north of Bitters. The program is celebrating the completion of the new xeriscape garden at the entrance of the neighborhood. Mission Ridge won the Xeriscape contest award in 2004. They used their $1,000 prize to cover some of the costs of the new garden.
The planting is about 50ft by 50ft. It has a decomposed granite pathway winding through it. Decomposed granite like brick without mortar, flagstone, rock and heated wood surfaces are an important part of a xeriscape landscape especially when they replace water hungry St. Augustine grass. The hardscape lets water penetrate to plant roots and allow gases to escape.
If you attend the ceremony or drive by later you will see the planting includes small trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers-all important parts of a good xeriscape. Specifically, you will see daylilies, crepe myrtles, lantana, society garlic, bulbine, agave, Knockout rose, red yuccas, esperanza, pink skullcap, Salvia greggii, Indigo Spires salvia, Mexican bush sage, angelita daisies, coral bean, vitex, copper canyon daisy, firebush, Mexican oregano, fall asters, purple cone flowers and coreopsis.
The event today will not include visits to the homes that made up the award winning xeriscape entry but I can describe some of their characteristics. The information may be useful if your neighborhood wants to compete for the cash prizes in 2005. You need to identify at least 4 homes in a neighborhood that have low water use landscapes.
The winning landscapes this year included one landscape that did not have any lawn area. There were several different groundcovers, lots of perennials and decomposed granite pathway leading to all the different sections including a Koi Pond. The second house on the Mission Ridge award winning entry had a zoysia grass lawn in the open areas and lots of shady sections under cedar and oaks. The areas under the trees were heavily mulched to keep weeds from growing and to reduce evaporation from the soil.
The third winning landscape had a completely different look. Brian Hough, a GVST member who lives in the neighborhood describes the yard as having a “cornucopia of different areas.” The landscape includes zoysia grass, a tropical area, a shade garden, native grasses and even a cutting garden and fishpond. The final winning landscape features El Toro zoysia grass, Asiatic jasmine and many flowering perennials. All of the winning landscapes used very little water on their landscapes. These award winning xeriscapes and the Theme Gardens at the Botanical Garden prove that the low water option is not limiting in South Texas. Whatever landscape “look” you prefer is available without requiring much irrigation water.