Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ellie. Ellie Wonders, “How do you make a garden?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ellie!
Have you ever been to the Wild West? If you've ever seen any old cowboy movies, you know that the American West had a reputation for exploration, wildness, and lawlessness.
Most Westerns pictured a landscape that was dry and dusty. If you live in the Western United States or have ever visited the area, you know that this stereotype can often be true. The Western U.S. tends to be much more arid than the rest of the country.
There are large desert areas throughout the Western U.S. The dry climate also causes problems for areas that are forested. If you pay attention to the news regularly, you know that wildfires have plagued Western states for many years.
In arid climates, water is obviously a precious resource. With relatively little rain to replenish water supplies, people must use the water they have wisely.
For example, many people who live in Western states do not have one particular luxury enjoyed by many people across the country: the freedom to water your lawn whenever you want. Many areas restrict the use of water for lawns, because there are more important uses for that water.
What are you to do then if you live in one of these areas, but you want beautiful landscaping around your home? Fortunately, there's a solution for drought-stricken areas: xeriscaping.
The word "xeriscape" comes from the Greek words xeros (dry) and scape (view). The term and landscaping philosophy was developed in the late 1970s by Denver Water, the water department for the city of Denver, Colorado.
The goal of xeriscaping is to design a landscape that features mostly native, drought-resistant plants arranged in an efficient manner to conserve water. For example, xeriscaping might involve using cacti and rocks rather than grass and non-native flowers.
Xeriscaping involves much more than just rocks and cacti, though. Any native, drought-resistant plants can be featured in xeriscaping. This means most areas have dozens of varieties of plants to choose from.
Since the purpose of xeriscaping is to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation, you may be WONDERing how effective the practice is. Denver Water estimates that xeriscaping can reduce water use for landscaping by 60 percent or more!