I have had the great opportunity to work with artist Kathryn Grider on the process homeowners can use to design gardens within their own landscapes.
Trending away from needless, high-maintenance lawn areas (notice how the lawn area is sloped, sending water downward to the street) landscape designs are incorporating native and xeric plants that are both, environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing.
The goals of a landscape design vary with the individual homeowner. The design may be intended to soften or reduce the intrusion of nearby hardscapes (roadways, neighboring building, parking area, etc.), accentuate a vista, or simply provide an extension of indoor living spaces. For me, it is the influence of all three. Since my husband and I do the physical labor ourselves, work on a limited time and financial budget, and because our home sits on an acre lot, we decided that working on the landscape in stages is the most practical way to develop our property. It is also the best way for us to thoughtfully plan out how each new landscape feature will blend with existing gardens and hardscapes providing continuity in the overall landscape. It can be professionally drawn up or roughly sketched, either way the the goals and intentions are to formulate a plant list so you will be shopping, and planting, with an overall plan in mind.
There are seven Xeriscape principles that make a low-maintenance, water-wise Northern Nevada landscape both attractive and attainable:
• Thoughtful planning for beauty and water conservation
• Improving/Amending the soil if needed
• Limiting turf areas
• Efficient irrigation; no more "set it, forget it"
• Mulching with organic products
• Select appropriate plants and group according to water needs
• Maintenance; proper weeding, pruning, and fertilizing.
Keep in mind that most trees and large landscape shrubs need 10 gallons of water each week through summer per 1 inch of trunk caliper. Ex: A tree with a four inch diameter trunk needs 40 gallons per week.