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Franklin County offers xeriscaping course

April 04, 2008

Water conservation is quickly becoming a way of life in many parts of the country. Water resources are growing scarce and risk of drought is becoming more frequent. There was less rain than normal in our area last summer and in several of the preceding years. The growth in our region requires more water with each new housing and commercial development.

Franklin County Master Gardeners will present a class on water-wise, drought-tolerant, xeriscape gardening from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Franklin County Extension Office. Call 717-263-9226 to register.

Water conservation is becoming essential and gardeners need be in the forefront of the movement to conserve water. Extension horticulture agents can help you determine what plants you should plant in your yard that will require less water.

The word "xeriscape" was coined in 1981 by a Denver-based environment planner to embody the principles of water conservation. Although it was initially of greater interest in arid, Western states, the concept has been slowly moving east. Homeowners in the Southeastern states, where last summer's drought reached crisis stage, have learned more about landscaping for dry conditions.

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"Xeri" is from the Greek meaning "dry." But this is not a boring, desert landscape of all gravel and spiny plants or a landscape with no lawn. There are hundreds of plants - from common to unusual - that will live and thrive in dry conditions.

Xeriscaping can involve a diversity of plants, colors and designs developed with the utilization of eight, basic, garden principles. When these principles are applied properly, the result is a garden and landscape which uses less water and fertilizer, uses fewer pesticides, and is easier to maintain.

As we have seen, our area is becoming more prone to drought. That should signal an alarm for a change from the thirsty plants we have grown in the past to a garden plan that will save water, time and money.

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