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Water-Wise Plants Maintenance

One of the beautiful elements of a Xeriscape is that it should require less overall maintenance than a traditional landscape. The first year or two, your new landscape will probably require a fair amount of weeding, but as plants mature they will crowd out the weeds, significantly reducing your maintenance time.

In addition to weeding, your Xeriscape will need proper irrigation, pruning, fertilizing and pest control. Maintenance time for a new garden is similar to a traditional landscape, but it decreases over time.

In addition to weeding, proper irrigation, pruning, fertilizing and pest control will keep your landscape beautiful and water thrifty. When your garden is well taken care of, you can sit back and enjoy it.


Once your plants become established, they may benefit from being fertilized every few years. Spring is generally the time of year when plants have their greatest flush of growth and therefore their greatest need for nutrients.

To ensure that nutrients are available when this growth begins, fertilizer can be applied in fall or in spring before the plants begin to break from dormancy.

Unless your plants are suffering from a diagnosed nutrient deficiency, never apply nitrogen in late summer. This will promote new growth that will be particularly susceptible to winter damage and will cause the plant to not harden for winter as it normally would. The application of phosphorus and potassium, on the other hand, will help plants to prepare for winter and can be applied in the fall to help the plant acclimate.

Fertilizer comes in many forms and can be applied through root feedings or surface applications. Because fertilizer can draw moisture away from plants, it is a good idea to water thoroughly both before and after the application when conditions are dry. A qualified nursery professional can assist you in selecting the product best suited to your needs and instruct you on how to use it properly.

In problem situations, a soil test to determine your soil type, pH and nutrient levels is tremendously helpful. This can enable you to identify and treat a specific problem affecting the health of your plants rather than guessing at what it may be. Your county extension office can provide information and instruction regarding a reliable soil testing laboratory in your area.

William Lowe
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