In areas that are prone to drought-like conditions or need water conservation, xeriscape gardening makes a world of difference in both adding to your home’s curb appeal and even harvesting homegrown crops. And while this method of gardening may be more straightforward in the spring and summer, applying it to the area around your home in the winter requires that you follow a special process to ensure all your hard work as well as the beauty of your yard does not go to waste. Below, learn how to take care of your xeriscaped landscape even in the colder months of the year.
What Is Xeriscape Gardening?
As a refresher, xeriscape gardening refers to the practice of landscaping designed to exist in an area susceptible to drought or where water conservation is top of mind. This method of gardening uses a common sense approach to limit water usage such as grouping plants together by water requirement, using native plants, and reducing the amount of lawn grass overall.
How to Xeriscape in the Winter
Now that you’ve been educated (or refreshed) on the function of xeriscape gardening, we can move onto how to successfully do this in the winter months. Just because the temperature dips doesn’t mean that your plentiful garden needs to suffer, and adhering to the following simple steps can ensure your outdoor oasis stays beautiful.
Fertilize in Advance
Before the weather turns too chilly, apply a fertilizer that is rich in potassium and phosphorus to your landscape. These substances are known to aid in root growth, particularly over winter months. This should be applied to non-native plants and grasses around your yard, but it should not be spread along native plants that are accustomed to the climate and soil of the area, as it is simply not needed. You should also apply mulch to your landscape, which helps soil retain heat. This is particularly important in areas that experience colder temperatures.
Nourish Your Soil
All winter long, the plants you worked hard to harvest will rely on their soil to receive the nutrients needed to survive. Use a humate treatment to essentially pump your soil with nutrients that it will love. Humate mimics what a layer of compost does for soil or the surface of the lawn, giving it everything it needs to flourish, even if tough weather conditions.
Don’t Forget to Water
This tip seems counterintuitive, but many plants fail to survive the winter because of the extremely dry air and lack of moisture. Even though xeriscaped yards don’t typically require much watering, they should still receive water every two to three weeks throughout the season, dependent on how much precipitation your area receives, of course. A good rule of thumb is to continue on this watering schedule as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Water helps dormant plants make the chemical change they require to adapt to the changing weather and drop in temperature, so it's definitely important.
Spruce Up Your Space
If you live in an area that doesn’t have a true winter—meaning, it doesn’t get that cold in your area—you may want to take advantage of the winter as a time to add new xeriscape-friendly plants and crops to your yard. Believe it or not, this is even a good time to grow plants that can be harvested as food. For instance, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, carrots, and cauliflower are all crops that can withstand some frost and still continue to flourish. There’s never been a better time to beef up your garden!
Transfer Where Necessary
Finally, if your xeriscaped garden includes plants that simply won’t be able to withstand the winter weather, you should work to transfer them indoors if possible. This includes herbs like basil and cilantro as well as vegetable crops like small tomato and pepper plants. These can usually be transferred indoors easily. Before transferring them, however, ensure that they aren’t infested with any pests to avoid their entrance to your home and spreading to other plants.
Just because winter is underway doesn’t mean your garden can’t be lush and full as in the other seasons of the year. Follow these tips for your xeriscaped garden to ensure that it flourishes all season long for your eternal enjoyment.