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Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

For the week of May 2 through May 8, 2001

Conscientious landscaping

Xeriscapes conserve water, protect environment

Express Staff Writer

There are two trends going on in landscaping that are diametrically opposed.

The first happens when people move here from lusher climes (essentially everywhere else) and build new homes, they have a yen to recreate their old environment. They want greenery and they want it now.

Sagebrush is one of the most prominent plants in this region and requires very little maintenance in a xeriscape landscape.

The desire for instant yards, gardens, ponds and the like strains our already minimal supply of water.

The other trend takes an entirely different approach. Xeriscape landscaping is a distinctive motif for this region, conserves water and protects the environment. Itís considered by many the most exciting and responsible concept to hit the landscape industry in decades.

Seven vital aspects make up the xeriscape philosophy.

∑  Planning and design: Have a well-thought-out landscape design, including the locations of existing structures, trees, shrubs and grass areas. Then consider the landscape budget, appearance, function, maintenance and water requirements.

∑  Soil Analysis: Have soil analyzed at the University of Idaho Extension office in Hailey. For $22 a sample is sent to Agritest in Twin Falls. Master gardener Joanne Robbins then gives fertilizer advice based on the results. Sandy or silt loams are probably the best type of soil to have in the valley, Robbins said.

∑  Practical turf areas: Turf should be a planned element, not a free for all. J. R Simplotís home in Boise is an example of what not to do---seed, water and mow an entire hill.

∑  Plant selection: Select trees, shrubs and ground covers based on their adaptability to our region's soil and climate. The Valley is Zone 3 - 4.

∑  Efficient irrigation: When the sprinkler is on, note where the water falls---avoid run-offs and irrigating driveways and streets. Never water in the middle of the day. The greatest waste of water is applying too much too often.

∑  Use mulches in flower and shrub beds to help keep soil cool and moist.

∑  Applied maintenance, which includes pruning, weeding, properly fertilizing, pest control and irrigation.

This year in particular we will be stretched to the limit with our water supply. Blaine County has been declared a drought disaster area, and farmers will only be able to irrigate half the number of days they would in a normal year.

Appreciating and respecting the mountains and high desert environs that we live in is part and parcel of creating a beautiful and integrated landscape.



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