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BrookeChaplan posted a blog entry in Brooke Chaplan's Green BlogA xeriscape yard can be just as lush and beautiful as one with colorful flowers and a deep-green lawn. The word “xeriscape” comes from the Greek and means “dry.” It’s possible to achieve a rich and varied landscape without relying on water-hungry turf or plants by following these three basic steps. Choosing Plants The rule of thumb for establishing a xeriscape in your yard is to look for plants that are native to the area. When you go to the nursery, choose plants that will thrive in your climate zone. Your local nursery can let you know or you can access this map online. The USDA determines zones by determining the lowest winter temperature an area experiences. It breaks those zones into 10 degrees Fahrenheit intervals. Once you find your zone, choose plants based on it. It’s difficult to grow plants in a zone that they’re not suited to. They’ll need covering on the coldest winter nights or may not survive the winter if their roots are damaged by hard freezes. Conversely, if they need a certain number of hours below freezing (also called chill hours), they may not flower or fruit in warmer climate zones. When choosing plants at the nursery, look on the plant’s tag or label. It should indicate its sun and water needs. Local nurseries may also tag plants as native or place them in a separate section. Irrigation System Even though you’re installing a drought-tolerant landscape, it will need some supplemental watering during dry periods, especially as it takes root. Once established, you may not need any irrigation, depending on your climate and the plants you choose. Once you’ve removed the turf and the water-hungry shrubs and plants, install the irrigation system. The most water-efficient are drip systems that provide water to the plants’ roots rather than broadcast it overhead like popup sprinklers do. Home improvement centers sell all the fittings for drip irrigation systems, but if you can’t find what you need locally, you may need to shop online or consult a professional. Ground Cover A xeriscape landscape uses rocks, gravel and masonry materials instead of turf to significantly reduce water usage. Losing the grass also emphasizes your plants. Landscaping rock comes in a variety of types, sizes, and colors. Many xeriscape yards combine all three materials in one yard to provide functional areas along with ground cover. As with the plants and irrigation systems, you may need to consult a company like Purdy Topsoil & Gravel if you can’t find what you’re looking for. The Results When it’s designed for your climate, a xeriscape landscape will last for years and provide natural beauty year-round. Once planted, it won’t require a lot of effort to maintain and will save precious water resources.
BrookeChaplan posted a blog entry in Brooke Chaplan's Green BlogWinter can be a brutal time for your family as well as your pets, and your whole crew may spend much of your time indoors where it is safe, warm and cozy. However, winter weather can be harsh on your home in different ways as well. Some of the more common types of winter damage that homeowners may have to deal with actually can be prevented when you take a few steps to prepare for the weather conditions to come. Ice Dams on Your Roof Heavy snow and ice on your roof can be potentially damaging because of the added weight on the roof, but this is not the only issue that cold weather presents to your home. When your home’s attic is not properly insulated, several patches of melted snow and ice may develop in pools over warmer areas of the roof. These can ultimately cause water to unnaturally pool up and even to flow upward into the shingles. Roofs are not designed for water to flow upward, so leaks commonly occur when this happens. Adding a new layer of insulation in your attic can prevent uneven heating. It can also help you to reduce heating bills in the months and years to come. Ruptured Irrigation Systems When the temperature is very low outside, the temperature of your soil may also plummet. Any water that is inside your irrigation system’s pipes may freeze. As water freezes, it expands. This exerts outward pressure on your pipes, and they ultimately may leak or rupture. This can waste water, and it can also result in the need for expensive repair work. Winterizing your irrigation system, or having a company like Hydrotech Irrigation Co. do it for you, is a great step to take to prevent this type of damage. Tree Branch Damage When snow and ice buildup on tree branches, the branches may become heavy with the weight. Branches that may not normally touch your roof, windows or siding may now brush against them regularly and cause damage. Some tree branches may even break under the weight of snow and ice, and this could damage the roof of the side of your home. Trimming branches away from the home in the summer or fall months is a smart idea. As you can see, there are several types of property damage that can be caused by winter weather conditions. As common as these issues are, they can easily be prevented when you spend time preparing your home for the weather conditions that will soon arrive.