Xeriscaping: Untap your landscape

Photo: Flagstone pavers and drought-tolerant plants help make this front yard area water wise. (Photo courtesy of Tonie Fitzgerald).

There is more to landscaping than pretty plants. Sustainable park design, drought-tolerant trees and proper watering to prevent turf diseases are just a few of the topics that will be addressed at this year’s WSU Turf, Tree and Landscape conference. 

More than 400 people from Washington, Idaho, Montana and other locations are expected to attend.

The conference, Feb. 7-8 at The Coeur d’Alene Resort, will focus on the importance of water conservation and how to effectively conserve, said Tonie Fitzgerald, WSU Spokane County extension educator and conference creator. Keynote speaker Tim Wilson from H2O Solutions will speak on how water conservation makes economic sense for the landscape industry. 

“Every year we try to focus on some theme and aspect that affects everyone,” Fitzgerald said. “Water is something that affects all of us.”

Steven Link, associate scientist at WSU Tri-Cities and extension educator for natural resources and ecology, will speak about xeriscaping, an environmentally friendly form of landscaping that uses drought-tolerant plants. He will focus on using native plants in xeriscaping.

Native plants are those that were present in Washington before European settlers arrived, according to Link. Natives are beneficial because they have adapted to the climate and the soil.

“We’re going to have trouble with water in the future,” Link said. “The more efficient we can learn to become, the better it will be for everyone.”

He recommends that people focus on the types of plants they use and when they plant them.
“It is best to plant these plants in the fall or winter, and then you may not have to water them in the spring,” he said.

It’s also best to choose varieties that originated as close to your location as possible. With more than 2,000 plant species native to Washington, there are a lot of options, he said. Some that require less or no water include sagebrush, bunchgrasses, balsam root and some daisy varieties.

For more information on the conference, visit ONLINE @ http://capps.wsu.edu/conferences/TTLC.
WSU at Large is an occasional series about WSU programs outside of Pullman. If you have a suggestion of a program to be featured, please contact intern Jessica Fitts at today2@wsu.edu.

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