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Proctor's Garden: How to have a colorful xeriscaped garden

Some people think a garden that uses little water is drab and dull, but it is possible to have a colorful, xeriscaped garden.

DENVER, Colorado — So many people misunderstand xeriscaping. The word xeriscape is derived from the Greek word for dry, xeris, so it means "dry scape." And xeriscaping is as simple as it sounds: gardening with very little water. 

Bad examples of xeriscaping abound. Avoid gravel, bark mulch, landscape fabric and black plastic. That really is "zero scaping." 

You don't necessarily need to amend your soil for xeric plants. Clay actually holds moisture well. Grow your plants lean and mean.

Native plants and many plants from similar climates around the world work well in a xeriscape. Some stand-out perennials in my dry garden include salvia, penstemon, bloody cranesbill, yarrow, gas plant, bearded iris, dianthus and cowboy's delight. 

Don't forget about your trees. You can't just stop watering a tree, such as a blue spruce, and lay rocks around it. That's a good way to kill it.

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Credit: KUSA
A gas plant in Rob Proctor's xeriscaped front yard.

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