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Freedom
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Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

This is my first post.

I decided I wanted to xeriscape 3/4 of my yard, put in native drought tolerant plants, and mulch, and not need to deal with grass -- mowing, watering, fertilizing and so on. I will just keep the grass in the fenced in back yard where the dogs are, where I enjoy sitting out.

I started working on this about 4 weeks back- I wasn't doing much but sitting around recovering from total knee replacement (Left was Jan 20, I don't even think about that one any longer, Right was Jun 1, still icing and elevating!) And I figured it would keep me busy for 5 or 6 weeks. So I did lots of research. Developed my list of plants. Took photos of each section of the yard. Developed plot maps showing where each plant will go. Read up, seems instead of digging out / removing the lawn, you can set down 5 sheets of newspaper, then put your 4 inches of mulch on top, and that will stop the grass and weeds from growing. Found some of my plants on sale at Lowe's and bought them!

The garden center near me held a free class on Xeriscaping 2 weeks ago - how appropriate! So I went to that. We were 22 in the class, which was an hour and a half long. I was the only one with sheets of maps and plot charts, so he ended up using my stuff quite a bit. We were there for 3 HOURS!! A few folks had to leave, most remained. And I got plenty of fine tuning to my plan!!!! Before I left, I asked him who he would suggest I use to put the stuff in. He gave me one name. So far, so good. Thanks to that sale at Lowe's, I have 28 plants in pots ready to go!

And I made an amazing discovery: I am NOT 30 years old any more!!! I tried digging the holes. HA! With severe drought conditions, the land is like concrete. And my knees aren't as far along as I need them to be for this job! NOW WHAT?!

So I phoned the one landscape company I had from the class, he returned my call next day. He only works in NH (which is where the garden center is located), he does not come in to Massachusetts. I asked him for referrals; he only made one, he said there is a long list of people he would NOT want working on my property. So I called that one company. Next I went to a garden center here in MA, further away, and got referrals from them. Came home and phoned them. In all, I called and left messages with 5 companies on Aug 23. NO ONE returned my calls!!! I called the first company again and finally got to talk to him, he came yesterday afternoon Sept 1, to see what my job is. He also talked about installing the water drip irrigation; I was going to use soaker hoses. I didn't really understand the difference, but I said OK. He will have an estimate for me end of NEXT WEEK, and he is scheduling work for the last week of September. I still have 28 plants in pots!!!!

Today I called the NH garden center; I had stopped in there on Tuesday of this week and one of the plants I need they had none left; they had 17 the day of the class. Today's phone call I asked about that plant - they are out for the season!

What do I do, go buy all the rest of the plants I want and have them sitting here try to keep them alive? I don't even know how much this job is going to cost me yet!!

Now, the NH garden center recommends the Dramm soaker hoses. The landscaper I met with yesterday uses Netafin. Well, Netafin has one water drip every 18 inches. The Dramm soaker hose sweats water all around the entire hose. I have an 80 foot stretch where we will have 3 rows of plants (it is a Southern slope). Most of those plants need to be 12 inches apart. I can't see how water every 18 inches is going to work there! The Netafin system uses water at 40 psi, while the Dramm soaker hose needs just 30 psi. So all the add ons - the timer, the water flow adjuster, the connectors - will be for the Netafin not the Dramm.

I am so confused I have no idea what to do or not do next!!!
Attachments
1 Far side driveway (Small).jpg
2 Front of sink (Small).jpg
3 Front end house (Small).jpg
4 Slope (Small).jpg
5 end slope (Small).jpg

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

Call me confused but isn't the whole point of xeriscaping to use less water? Or are the soaker hoses just going to be used until the plants get established?

Good luck with the contractors. When we had to have a sewer line installed we couldn't get a contractor to call us back or keep an appointment for a million $$$$! And the county required the work to be finished by a certain date!

Now, for the issue with digging the planting holes. First you need to water the area well. Sounds counter-productive but dried soil is like concrete. Moist but not wet soil is workable. Then you could rent a tiller, a heavy duty one works best. I think Lowes has tillers for rent. Or buy a pick and use that to get the ground broken. The pick takes a lot more effort but less work than a shovel only.

Once planted the plants will need to be watered quite frequently during the rest of the summer and into fall, unless you get enough rain. Unless you have a watering ban in effect a simple cheap sprinkler works just fine. Water early in the morning, just after sunrise is best. And remember that even after the plants go dormant the roots need moisture. Keep watering until the ground freezes. Once the ground freezes mulch around the plants. Then when winter starts to break keep checking them to make sure the plants aren't being heaved out of the ground. Heaving is actually the biggest killer of new landscape plants. The spring freeze/thaw repeat cycle forces them up out of the ground and then the roots dry out.

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

Another question, which plant is it that you want? Is there an alternative? Sometimes Lowes gets plants in for the fall planting season. Check back regularly to see their inventory. Also, if you have more than one Lowes nearby, check them all. I got a whole bunch of ferns and spring flowering shade garden plants for $1 each by going to a Lowes I don't usually visit.

I am a Lowes plant clearance rack fan! Found stuff there that I had to have but never knew existed until I saw it on the shelf.

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Freedom
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

Hi ButterflyLady29!!

Yes, the irrigation is for the first 2 years to help get the things established. With over 60 new plants going in, I thought it made sense to have a set up and a timer so it can water overnight. There will be at least 4 zones and possibly 6. It would take hours for me to water them properly, otherwise. Everyone tells me slow watering for 2 hours per zone. And . . . that still leaves me using sprinklers for the fenced in area! So far we have no water limitations here; all the cities and towns around me do, just mine and the other one which draw from the one reservoir are no limits yet. Gee, now you have me thinking. Maybe I just want to bite the bullet and get myself doing it this year, oh wait, there is all of next year (Spring Summer Fall) and I suspect we will be in severe drought conditions again. Hmmm. Plus with sprinklers there is evaporation. I just can't see me being able to keep up with all of it?

Most of the new plants are going in on the slope. All that arctostaphyllos uvi ursa - I have 18 plants already. I asked the contractor, he said that will do about half the area!

The dwarf Rose of Sharon, Lil Kim, is the one the garden center sold out. I will need 3. It is so pretty!

I am sticking with small, dwarf varieties - like Bobo, the hydrangea. This way in 5 or 6 years when everything is full grown -- I too will be 5 or 6 years older, so I won't need to use a ladder to prune!!

Yes, an online friend told me about those clearance racks last year. Amazing! All the 28 plants I have currently came from those racks! Saved me tons of money. At least, if I can keep them alive until they go in the ground, it will save me money, lol. You don't need to tell me to check back; I check almost daily! Initially it was a nice place to practice walking, as I recovered from the knee surgeries. Thus my daily visits.

I picked up 14 verbena Homestead Purple and put those under the yews on the slope . . . all are now blooming it looks stunning! Turns out one was mislabeled, it is red, but it just happens to be one set apart away from the rest, so it looks as if I INTENDED to have that one a different color!

All the plants I'm putting in are in the blue / pink shades, and white. I initially had Little Lime for the hydrangea. Well, that gets lime green flowers which turn pink, and Bobo has white which turns pink, plus Bobo is even smaller, so that was swapped out. The lime green would probably look 'seasick green' in with all the dark green stuff. Roxanne is blue flowers. Arctostaphyllos is pink flowers. And so on. I am excited to see how this all looks going forward!

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Freedom
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

When I posted the initial posting, I think I was just overwhelmed with how big the whole project became, lol. And all the info I was taking in so quickly. Since then, I have spoken w/ several Master Gardeners, online.

Sat and Sun, I put in 57 new plants - MYSELF! I was up at 6:30 AM on Saturday, dug holes - oh my so many holes! - then went and bought the rest of my plants, returned and started putting them in the holes. With peat, cow manure / compost and BioTone. Took me through Sunday, but I finished. I was rushing because we were supposed to get a good soaking rain - which we desperately need! - today, Monday, Labor Day, from Hermine.

Hermine is further East than they thought, we have bright sunny skies today (Monday). We may get some clouds tomorrow, but only a 40% chance of rain.

But I got everything in the ground! I am reading up on pine needle mulch aka pine straw -- that is required for the Bearberry, and it sounds like I could use it for the entire project. As long as I get a good quality and not a DIY store product, it should work.

I am so tired, I feel like I could sleep for a week!

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

Congratulations on all the hard work you did. It sure takes a lot of muscle and time to totally revamp a yard like that.

As for Lil Kim, were you able to get any? All you need is one to get cuttings from. Rose of sharon grows pretty fast and if you can get small plants in next year they will catch up pretty quick, and be easier to transplant. One hint, trim those seed pods off. You'll end up with a rose of sharon forest if you aren't vigilant about keeping them from spreading. If Lil Kim is a hybrid the seedlings probably won't be dwarf or have the flower you want anyway.

You won't need to water every day. With 6 zones you could get one each day. But yes, there is the evaporation with sprinklers. And you don't want to water the foliage from about 1 hour before sunset to 1 hour before sunrise. Soaker hoses would be the best solution. And once the weather gets cooler next year you can taper back on the watering.

Newspaper topped with mulch works great at smothering most weeds. Cardboard works better, if you can get it. I use cardboard on the paths in my garden. Watch for those clearance sales. I got wood chips for a dollar a bag a few years ago.

Are you going to put in any sedum? Autumn Joy and Brilliant are pink, attract bees and butterflies, and pretty drought tolerant. The best thing about sedum is that it's very easy to propagate. They can spread pretty well if given good growing conditions.

I think you'll be happy with the arctostaphyllos. Read up on how to root cuttings from it. There are many ways to propagate the plants you have. It might take a few years but it's really cheap and if you end up with too many you can always sell them at a yard sale. And it's a good way to have your own replacements if something just doesn't thrive where you have it.

imafan26
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

Soaker tubes do drip all over but they clog over time but will work for the short term. Netafilm is a drip system. 18" between drippers is standard spacing. Drip systems use low pressure and low voumes so the system needs to be on for a longer time. However, slow and deep watering will mean you can get away with not having to water every day once the soil is wet.

When you put in your plants they will look sparse until they fill in or grow up. Add organic matter to hold on to moisture and mulch.
In Xeriscape gardens there is more hardscape than plants so the spacing for netafilm should work.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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cass2828
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

Could you explain what is Xeriscape???
Grow big or go home..

imafan26
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Re: Xeriscape Project, hit some issues

People think xeriscape is zeroscape. Xeriscape is landscaping using less thirsty plants. Grass is just about the biggest water hogging plant you can have. Plants for xeriscape are usually native to the region but characteristics of drought tolerant plants are gray or blue gray leaves. Leaves are either waxy or they are very small to reduce water loss. Ground cover is usually mulch or stone instead of grass.

Good plants for xeriscape

Native plants

rosemary (also fire resistent so good for slopes and firebreaks)
natal plum (waxy leaves)
Most cactus and succulents - Yucca, agave, ice plant, portulaca
lavender, salvia, agastache, red hot poker, penstemon. russian sage, helichrisum
Herbs sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary,
Fig, starfruit, tamarind are edible fruit trees that don't need a lot of water. Citrus trees in the tropics need good drainage but only a good soak once a week. Trees add an extra bonus, they cool the area down and provide shade.

The idea is to make sure you do the prep well and add a lot of organic matter to the soil to help retain moisture. Some of the drought resistant plants are also big so they take up real estate so you don't need to have as many. Plant in groups so you can water more efficiently. Cover the space between plants with mulch and pavers. Here you want a permeable walkway, when it does rain, you want the soil to be able to capture the water. In xeriscape gardens stones and rocks are a common mulch. Lighter colors won't absorb as much heat but white rocks look dirty over time so a lighter shade of red or brown or even grey is better. You can use hardscape for interest. Put in decorative boulders. Make an interesting pathway (not straight) and make each group of plantings its own mini garden. With Xeriscape less is more. The trick is to plan it so that it still looks natural and cohesive. You can still get a lot of color in the plants, but also interesting shapes and textures as well.
https://www.sunset.com/garden/earth-frie ... front-yard
https://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscapin ... ng/#page=1
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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