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Garden Greener

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As we wait out the cold of winter, dreaming for the sunny skies of spring, take a break and start planning your garden. I know it may be hard to fathom now, but in many regions of the country, 2010 may not bring any relief from withering drought conditions. In places like California, emergency plans are already in place for an anticipated five-year drought. With so many people looking for ways to conserve, experts say it may be time to rethink your backyard, no matter where you live.

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In many parts of the country this year, it won't be easy staying green.

"Just constantly watering," homeowner Teresa Gomori told Ivanhoe. "It's part of your normal routine. Everyday."

Constant watering is no longer part of the routine for Donna Berard. Penn State Extension Office's master gardener had an epiphany several years ago, during a hot, dry spell.

"I wanted a colorful garden that was low maintenance, that wasn't going to cost me any money in water," Berard recalled

She turned to the science of horticulture and a technique called xeriscaping, or low water landscaping. First, she identified drought-resistant plants. These are often lower to the ground, so they absorb more moisture. They're lighter colored, to reflect the sun. Sometimes their leaves have a waxy coating.

Good maintenance will also conserve water. Berard removes any dried up flowers from her plants weekly. She fluffs the mulch to allow moisture through to the roots, and absolutely no weeds allowed. They steal water away.

When water is needed, xeriscapers use specially designed soaker hoses. The porous material delivers a steady mist of water directly to the plant roots.

Berard says xeriscaping will make a difference in your water usage, and your wallet. She suggests using plants that are native to the region you are living. Those plants will naturally be more resistant to drought.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Donna Berard
306 S Coldbrook Ave.
Chambersburg, PA 17201

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