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After you evaluate your site and take some time to plan your new design, consider the following installation tips.
Prepare Your Site
Measure, mark out and install hardscape areas first.
Prepare and grade the soil – consider adding earthworks (grading) to utilize rainwater at this time.
Thoroughly kill the grass when converting To Xeriscape
By using several methods of grass elimination you increase your chances of success.
When using a post-emergent application of glyphosate, a contact herbicide sprayed directly on the grass, best results are achieved when the grass is actively growing. Two or more applications are recommended allowing two weeks between applications. Watering the grass between applications to "green it up" will increase the effectiveness of the herbicide.
Dig out the top three to four inches of grass or scalp the grass close to the ground once it has been sprayed and killed.
Where appropriate, plan mounding over grass areas to help "smother out" any future growth. When mounding over grass, it is also helpful to layer cardboard under the mound to provide an additional barrier to any future grass growth.
Install Irrigation (for healthy plants water infrequently but water deeply)
A pressure anti-siphon valve installed according to City Code is recommended over the use of an atmospheric anti-siphon valve due to greater protection and flexibility in the installation of the irrigation system.
Install copper pipe from water source to anti-siphon valve and copper pipe from anti-siphon valve to ground, then go PVC. If PVC is used above ground, paint all PVC with latex paint to protect it from the sun.
When installing an irrigation system, group plants of common water usage on the same valve. Use separate valves for trees, grass, and shrubs and groundcover. When possible, vegetable / flower gardens or other high usage plants should be on a separate valve.
For trees and large shrubs install several (2-4) emitters halfway between the tree trunk and the end of the root ball. Be sure to include extra lengths of tubing to relocate the emitters out further as the tree grows. Also be prepared to install additional emitters as the tree matures.
Plant Trees First
Then plant large shrubs. Finish with smaller shrubs and groundcover.
When planting trees, remove the nursery stakes and install 2 – 2 inch lodge poles outside of the root ball with connective ties to the tree.
Carefully place trees and large shrubs to provide shade on the East and West sides of the house, sitting areas, or for other plants needing sun protection. You may also want to provide protection from the (prevailing) wind by planting on the Southwest exposure.
Be sure to plan for the mature size of the tree.
Install Organic Or Inorganic Soil Covers
When using organic mulches for soil moisture retention, spread to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
When installing granite, remove dirt from concrete edge of sidewalk 3 to 4 inches and then taper soil away.
When installing granite, you may want to leave the area around some plants bare so that mulch can be added and so that leaf litter can deposit - shading the soil and plant roots.
Do not install mulch or granite directly against the tree trunks.
Do not use plastic. It prevents water and oxygen from reaching the roots of plants.