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From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,” xeriscape was coined in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.”  Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and slow-growing plants to reduce water use.

Such a practice can significantly affect water consumption, as 70 percent of the average home’s water is used outside and xeriscaping can potentially cut this requirement in half. In addition to requiring less water, xeriscapes usually need fewer pesticides and even fertilizer, potentially reducing their contribution to pollution. The word “xeriscaping,” has been largely replaced by the term “drought-tolerant plants,” or “California Friendly Landscape” but is still used in many academic circles.

Xeriscaping is not standardized across dry areas, as different regions’ soil types and sunlight must also be considered to ensure plants will survive. Each region, even within a single state, should choose plants equipped for their particular environment. Some popular examples include cacti, myrtle trees, daffodils, honeysuckle, oregano, black walnuts and many grasses.

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