Embracing Drought-resistant Landscaping Saves More Than Water 

Go Native

A cottage on WaterSaver Lane

Gabriela Mata

A cottage on WaterSaver Lane

The term xeriscape can bring a bleak image to mind: a dull, grayish, rocky landscape absent of life outside of a few cacti and succulents.

San Antonio Botanical Garden Director of Programs Cynthia Klemmer has heard it before.

"The stereotype is that a xeriscape is just a yard devoid of grass and full of rocks and cacti. And, it's so much more than that," Klemmer said, from WaterSaver Lane in the garden. "It's such a turnoff. A cactus garden can be beautiful, but there's lots of options."

There's perhaps no better place to exhibit this in San Antonio than WaterSaver Lane, which features six cottages demonstrating water-friendly gardening techniques used in drought-tolerant landscaping, including "Cottage Garden," "Spanish Courtyard," "Wildscape," "Manicured Xeriscape" or "Hill Country." There's also a not-so-water friendly St. Augustine-dominated landscape for comparison.

In South Texas, there's a reason to consider embracing the xeriscape, which, simply put, means utilizing plants that reduce the need for supplemental water, or stops it altogether.

"If you choose plants that are native to this region, they're already going to be adapted and tend to be more resistant to pests and insects," Klemmer explained. "They'll be able to tolerate them and they are certainly handy in this climate with the level of water."

There are also financial incentives to considering drought-resistant landscaping.

For one, the San Antonio Botanical Garden estimates that 30 percent of water used by Alamo City households drains right into lawns. Secondly, in addition to saving on water bills, the San Antonio Water System has a coupon program where people can get rebates for embracing low-water use xeriscaping.

But again, SAWS says it isn't asking people to rip out all the grass from their lawns.

"The whole idea is for lawns to be a third grass, a third hardscape and a third in planted beds," SAWS Spokeswoman Anne Hayden said.

The spring coupon package includes 15 drought-tolerant plants. To be eligible, people need to remove 200-square-feet of grass per coupon (two max), apply for a $100 rebate and then shop for the plants at participating nurseries.

To learn more, visit gardenstylesa.com or visit WaterSaver Lane at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which, by the way, offers couponing classes for the SAWS program.

Oh, and one more plus to using native drought-tolerant plants is users can expect to see more butterflies and birds brightening up the yard.

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