In the Western United States, an average of 50% of all residential water use goes towards watering lawns and gardens. With concerns over water scarcity increasing, there is a growing movement to conserve water by converting thirsty traditional lawns and gardens to water-wise xeriscapes.
The word xeriscape comes from the Greek word “xeri-” which means “dry” and xeriscaping enthusiasts have long had to fight against the popular misconception that xeriscaped landscapes consist of nothing but rocks and cacti. In fact, xeriscapes commonly feature a riot of color, texture, and form that provides year round beauty and interest.
Once established, the typical xeriscape requires little or no additional water, and reduce landscape water use by 60% or more. Xeriscapes also tend to be low maintenance and, because many xeriscapes rely heavily on native plants, they also tend to be very wildlife-friendly, attracting beautiful birds, butterflies, and other wild creatures to bring the landscape alive.
Though most popular in the arid and semi-arid regios of the Desert and Mountain West, xeriscaping principles can be applied to landscaping projects throughout the United States, wherever water conservation is a goal. For example, some landscapers in the Great Lakes area now offer xeriscaping services in order to improve the health of the Great Lakes watershed. Though the lush native prairie and woodland landscapes that result bear little resemblance to a dryland garden in Arizona or Colorado, they offer the same benefits to homeowners interested in reducing water bills and going green.
As more people learn about the beauty, environmental benefits, and financial rewards of xeriscaping, the industry is expected to continue to grow.
Many xeriscaping professionals have backgrounds in traditional horticulture or landscaping design services, but switched to xeriscaping when they became aware of the ecological impact of landscapes filled with thirsty exotic plants. Others have degrees in botany, conservation biology, water resource management, or similar fields, while still others have simply turned their passion for native plants and waterwise landscapes into a career.
Regardless of background, a thorough knowledge of native plants and drought-tolerant, non-invasive exotics is vital for anyone interested in pursuing a career in xeriscaping.
Licensing and certification requirements for landscaping professionals vary state-by-state, so it is important to research your local regulations before starting your business. Due to the high risk of on-the-job injuries, any business involved in landscape installation must also purchase insurance. Fortunately, as the landscaping industry has grown in recent years, there are some insurance companies now that even specialize in insuring landscapers!
Word-of-mouth is the most common way landscaping businesses build their clientele. A website showcasing the beautiful gardens your company has created is also a useful marketing tool, especially for clients who may still be a little skeptical about whether xeriscaping is the right choice for their needs.
Three Xeriscaping Services Bringing the Drylands To Life
Glorious Gardens Landscape, based in Oceanside, CA, specializes in water-wise landscaping design, installation, and maintenance for the San Diego County region. Glorious Gardens also operates the new Glorious Gardens Design Center in Encinitas, which offers plants, garden art, and other products in addition to design services.
Xeriscape Design is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second driest state in the nation. It offers a full range of xeriscaping services for “Utah-friendly” landscapes, ranging from one-time consultations to full scale design and landscaping projects. Xeriscape Design also offers useful information about great xeric (drought-tolerant) plants for Utah gardens on its website as a service to Utah gardeners from other parts of the state.
Native Plant Landscaping and Restoration, located in West Richland, WA, specializes in xeriscape design, installation, and maintenance in the Columbia River basin of eastern Washington and Oregon, with a special emphasis on native plants. In addition to residential xeriscapes, Native Plant Landscaping and Restoration also offers ecological restoration services, including professional botanical surveys and seed collection in sensitive native landscapes.
Main Image Credit: Jeremy Levine Design