The majority of Texas is currently experiencing drought. Most of the state has been under drought conditions for the last three years. State Climatologist John-Nielsen Gammon has warned that Texas could be in the midst of a drought worse than the original drought on record. In 2011, the months from March through May, and then June through August, Texas set records for low rainfall in recorded history. The high temperatures over the summer months increased evaporation, further lowering river and lake levels.
2011 was the driest year ever for Texas, with an average of only 14.8 inches of rain. The only comparable drought occurred during the 1950s, but no single year during that drought was as dry as 2011. While the state has seen some good rains since the long, dry summer of 2011, there still haven’t been enough to fill many reservoirs back up. The state’s reservoirs are currently less than 60 percent full, according to the Texas Water Development Board.
The Texas drought isn’t over, but it’s certainly seen some improvement during the last few months. Since early July, shown in the first map below, the proportion of Texas in a “severe” or worse drought has fallen from 75 percent to 23 percent today.
Xeriscape, is a landscaping method that uses drought-tolerant native and adaptive plants to build gardens. It is ideal for central Texas, where the climate is dry and hot. This gardening option conserves the region's water resources and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Since the plants you grow have a natural resistance to local pests and thrive in the familiar soils and usual rainfall tables. Although a xeriscaped garden takes planning and work to get it off the ground, you'll also find it requires less maintenance than a traditional landscape once all the plants are in place.
Saves Water. For most of North America, over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 - 75%. Less Maintenance. Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal. Watering requirements are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems. No Fertilizers or Pesticides. Using plants native to your area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements. Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil. Improves Property Value. A good Xeriscape can raise property values which more than offset the cost of installation. Protect your landscaping investment by drought- proofing it. Pollution Free. Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas. Small turf areas can be maintained with a reel mower. Provides Wildlife Habitat. Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife.
Project Manager – oversees to make sure all aspects of the project meets the deadlines and everything if finished on time by presentation day. This is also the main presenter on presentation day. Site Manager - oversees the researching of the information on the internet. Also, is the main builder of the digital presentation. Blogger – writes down all of the research information that the site manager finds on the internet. This person also keep all of the team’s work and data. All work should be handed to the blogger every day. Time Keeper – a manger that keeps track of what needs to be done, how much time is left in the class period, how much time to spend on each component of the project, and makes sure to keep the team on track to meet deadlines.
We are now going to divide up into your groups. After, you are divided into your groups, each team member must take on a role in the project. If your team has five members, then you will have two Bloggers on your team.
Now, we are going to fill in the Cooperative Group Contract. These are all the rules that your team agrees to follow by. All rules must have teacher approval before they can be written down. Hand the contract into the teacher once all members have signed it.
Analyze the site: The key to xeriscaping is to understand which plants' needs are satisfied easily by the site, and the only way to know this is to determine what the site provides naturally, with minimal effort. Draw a map of your box (try to keep it to scale, if you can) and gather the following information: Optional: Make a sun chart. Find out which are the sunniest and which are the darkest parts of your site. Every few hours, record where the sun is shining on your map. Keep in mind that the site's exposure to sunlight will also vary at different times of the year, as well as different parts of the world (the sunniest part in one person's garden may still get much less sunlight than the darkest part of someone else's yard). Study the rainfall patterns for your site. How many inches or centimeters of rain does the site get per year? Is it spread out through the year, or is it concentrated in a short, "monsoon" period?
Classify the zones: There should be three ways to classify every zone in your site: Oasis - Close to a large structure; can benefit from rain runoff and shade (which reduces evaporation, keeping more water in the soil); can also exist surrounding a large tree or at the edge of a forest/orchard Transition - A "buffer" area between oasis and arid zones Arid - Farthest from structures, low-traffic, receives the most sunlight
Select plants: Obtain a list of plants appropriate for your region. Choose from a variety of plants that will tolerate drought conditions. Approach is to find out which plants are native to your area. Remember that your site should be planted in receding "layers". Think of each structure (the house, a large tree) as a focal point. At each focal point, you add a few bright, eye-catching species that are still well-suited to local conditions. As you get further away from the focal point, the plants become more subtle and also more drought-tolerant. As you're browsing lists of plants that are suitable for your area, keep these design guidelines in mind, as well as the sunniness, rainfall, and soil type of your site.
Fill large areas with a lawn substitute. The typical green lawn is a thirsty and high-maintenance "carpet". Ideas You can plant ornamental grasses which grow in clumps, (the idea being to only use grasses as an accent, rather than make them the major focus of the garden). The area that would normally be the lawn is usually classified as arid, so covering that area with low-maintenance plant species makes a big difference.
Group water-needy plants together near structures. Preferably, plant them in containers so the roots will get more water (rather than it seeping into the surrounding soil, where it can encourage the growth of weeds); you may even consider using self-watering pots. The pots themselves can be decorative accents. Ideas: An alternative to using containers would be to create a retaining wall (essentially a very large container), which has the added benefit of making your oasis plants stand out more. Arrange plants based on the amount of sunshine available. Some sides of the structure will get a lot more sunlight than others. Since some plants can take more sun and heat than others, plant the more sun-friendly, drought-tolerant plants where most of the afternoon sun will be located. Develop a water thrifty irrigation system if necessary. Install drip irrigation to water plants. Water evaporation is minimized thereby saving precious water for other uses. Also, the slower you water, the less run-off there is.
Soften the boundaries. Fill the between arid and oasis zones with plants that fall in the middle of the spectrum in terms of water and sunlight needs and aesthetics. Ideas: One way to do this is to create a "cascade" effect from the oasis plants (tall and bright) to the transition zone (a little shorter, catching attention by texture rather than color, such as shrubs, bushes, or ornamental grass clumps) to the arid zone (low-lying, subtle and very drought-resistant). If there is a retaining wall, however, a transition zone may not be necessary. Ultimately, see what looks best to you.
For soil retention the best product to use is Mulch. Choose an appropriate mulch to help reduce erosion and suppress weeds. Ideas: Organic, wood-based mulch will also retain moisture. As it decomposes, it'll improve the soil over time, but it needs to be replaced regularly. A stone or gravel mulch, on the other hand, does not need to be replaced, but it should be lined with landscape fabric in order to keep weeds from growing through the mulch, and it will retain a good deal of heat (which can damage delicate plants). It also attracts fewer insects.
Now, you will begin to research with your team how you want your design to look. You can go to www.google.com and type in Xeriscape and click on Images. This will give you a jumping off point for your design ideas.