Breaking down water wise gardening and the terminology

Local News

UTAH (ABC4) – As we continue to see some of the worst drought conditions in the past few decades in the Great Basin, many residents may be wondering how they can conserve water on their end.

But for some beginners, the terms may be confusing or misrepresented. Today we focus on the terminology of water wise gardening.

Water wise gardening is a pretty generic term that can mean different things for different areas.

“Water wise gardening for us in Utah is a lot with low water gardening because we want to conserve water and not waste it” says Marita Tewes Tyrolt, horticulture director at Red Butte Garden.

And during this time, not wasting water is of extreme importance as we continue to see more restrictions being placed on excess water use.

Within water wise gardening, there are many terms used that could be a source of confusion for beginners or sometimes they just may have heard it applied incorrectly and do not know what they may truly mean.

“A lot of people are really just sometimes confused with terms. People tend to use the word ‘drought tolerant’ which isn’t quite the right term to use because drought in Utah may be different than drought in Kentucky, where I come from, or drought somewhere else” explains Tewes Tyrolt.

Other terms that are used are “hydrozoning,” “native plants,” “xeric,” “mesic,” and the one that everyone thinks of when they imagine water wise gardening: “xeriscape.”

  • Hyrdozoning – strategically placing plants of the same water requirement together to minimize water waste.
  • Native plants – a variety of plants that are from a certain geographical area
  • Xeric – does not need supplemental water after establishment
  • Mesic – requires supplemental water after establishment, could possibly require a lot of water
  • Xeriscape – a type of landscape practice that highlights many facets of water wise gardening

But sometimes, xeriscape gets misrepresented as “zero-scape.”

Tewes Tyrolt explains why that happens at times, “xeric again means you don’t have to water it again after establishment, but xeriscape does not mean that. Xeriscape is not cactus and gravel. Xeriscape really encompasses the concept of hydrozoning.”

Which means that many of us may have already been practicing xeriscape type gardening without even realizing it.

In the next installment of water wise gardening, I take a look at landscaping and hydrozoning.

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