It makes sense to work with what nature provides you. We live in a desert climate, so why not adapt our aesthetic to suit our surroundings? In honor of our Earth issue, we’re gathering up advice from two experts on why opting for this route can be both beneficial and attractive. Also, you can learn how to make your own compost for fertilizer!
Khaled Shoukry – Botanica
The costliest elements in terms of labor, electricity, water, fertilizer, and pesticides is a maintaining a lawn – and prices have gone up exponentially! Opting for a desert-style garden can cut water cost up to 70%, and the soil will retain its nutrients. When you flood desert soil with water, it completely kills what was there in terms of nutrients within two years, so then you must intensely fertilize which is a huge waste.
We are globally experiencing a water shortage issue, so it’s much more conscientious to opt for grass strains that don’t need so much water in order to maintain their health and growth. The most common large area grass type in Egypt is seashore paspalum, which needs daily irrigation, sometimes even twice in hot summer months, and cutting twice a week. Buffalo grass, for example, doesn’t need as much maintenance in terms of cutting or watering. It’s tough and sturdy, and once it’s established it’s difficult to get rid off.
A lot of the semi-detached houses we find today in compounds have the small to medium size garden, these can easily be converted into an environmentally-friendly space. The considerations at the design phase should include a number of functionality factors such as whether the space is for dining, how much seating, swimming, etc. When selecting plants or trees, you take into consider the sun exposure, windiness, and how you will be laying out the seating area and water features, if included. You can create magic in small or medium spaces without using grass at all.
Yehia El-Sherbiny – Genenti
Desert style landscaping is a design direction incorporating a mixture of ‘hardscape’ and ‘softscape’ elements that treat water as a precious resource, and is better suited for areas where sunlight is abundant. If you are aiming for a desert style garden, it should be incorporated as early on in the design phase as possible. Given the rising cost of irrigation water, a growing number of my clients are inclined to incorporate elements from desert style landscaping into their home gardens while maintaining the green element of the space.
Considerations may involve minimizing or eliminating the lawn area, which is viewed as one of the pillars of an environmentally friendly garden, replacing the lawn with rock beds, gravel pathways and/or artificial grass, while incorporating terrain elevations and drops.
Plant selection is as important as the design, a number of plant species are known to require little water and possess shapes and color properties that are suitable to create a beautiful garden all year round. Avoid planting traditional fences using evergreen plants such as Ficus or Conocarpus, as they require large quantities of water. The use of cacti is recommended, as they are by far the most characteristic of desert plants, requiring little water and a lot of sunlight. Cacti come in a wide range of sizes and shapes; and sometimes flowers. Some palms, particularly date palms and palms native to dry climates make for a great addition to a desert style garden. Yuccas are also a popular choice, as they are evergreen plants, native to the hot and dry climates and are a great way to complement any desert style garden.
Make Your Own Plant Food
Forget store-bought fertilizer! You can make your own compost pile really easily.
Collect all your food and paper waste into an open container of your choice outdoors, along with any fallen leaves from your trees and let it sit working its magic for 5 to 8 months.
Make sure to turn it over with a pitchfork every two months so the compost pile can get oxygenated, for beneficial bacteria to grow. Every 1 to 2 weeks, dribble some water on the pile to add moisture.
This not only helps feed your plants and trees, but also helps with recycling and cutting down on landfill waste!