Extreme Gardening: Any ideas on creating an oasis?

Having recently moved from the beautiful Northeastern USA, to the quite picturesque Desert Southwest, I am having a time trying to adapt my New England landscaping style to this desert clime. I bought a book “Extreme Gardening” which details plants and shrubbery that do well in this climate but gives little help with watering systems and the like.

Scene: Our backyard is roughly 3/4 of an acre. Pool in lower centre, some grass and lot’s of desertification around the outskirts. Translation: a shit load of desert stone, saguaro, prickly pear and various desert scrub.

I’ve quardened off a large section dug 2 ft into the creosote (sp?) and had 4 cubic tons of soil put in. I had a watering system integrated at my own design and now I am working with a blank slate. I’ve put up a large (24X15) overhang where I have boganvilla starting to snake up the sides. I’m hoping to make a nice water feature and little sanctuary inside this covered area.

Any ideas on watering systems with renewable water sources? Reverse Osmosis machine perhaps? Filtered drainage water from the laundry or kitchen/ bath sinks? I’m trying to go as green as I can. We’ve just dumped a big chunk of change into a solar energy system…that will hopefully pay for itself in 5 yrs or so… Things I’ve learned are -> keep it simple, recycle all you can, and live with the earth as best you can. Now I’m not a tree hugg’in full on vegan nazi, but doing our part to aid the environment around us is not such a bad thing.

Any suggestions?

Drip irrigation. It’s cheap to install, and very efficient with water usage. If you avoid ground covers that need sprinklers, you can use it for everything. Put down lots of organic mulch around the emitters and your plants to help the soil retain the moisture and keep the water from evaporating. Avoid groundcovers that need to be watered with sprinklers (like turf grass).

Consider that if you use recycled water you’ll have to maintain a system for storing it and delivering it at a consistent pressure (holding tanks, pressure tanks, pumps, etc.) and a way to switch between stored water and utility-supplied water. I’d look into the economics of such a system very carefully before I spent money on it.

So collect some data:
[ol]
[li]Figure out how much water you’re using pre-irrigation.[/li][li]Install an irrigation system first (hooked up to your utility, which it’ll need to be anyways in case you can’t recycle enough water to run it), measure how much water it uses.[/li][li]Find out how much a water recycling system would cost.[/li][/ol]
With that data you’d be in a better position to see if water recycling made economic sense.

I suggest going with the flow so to speak, meaning use native plants and the such.

Here’s one thing the Israelis use to grow melons. Bury a big unglazed, covered crock, almost up the rim. Plant a circle of plants around it, and keep the crock filled with water. The roots will glom onto the wet crock, and you’ll use very little water.

That’s the sum of what I know about dry-country gardening. I think xeriscaping is about avoiding copiers. :rolleyes: