Steele: Share your garden experience

This is my personal invitation to everyone to enter the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s  2011Garden Contest.

All residential properties in the Central Okanagan, with any water-wise/xeriscape landscaping on their property, are eligible.

August 31 is the deadline to enter. Everyone who enters is eligible for the draw prize of $500 cash.

Entries received by Aug.15 are eligible for an early bird draw prize of two yards of Class A compost delivered to your garden. Thanks to Dean Dack of Classic Compost ( for this donation.

The purpose of the contest is to showcase water-wise gardens, recognize those who have created them, and encourage others by giving them good ideas for their own gardens. Photos of winning gardens will be showcased on OXA’s website gallery.

There are three categories. Homeowner installed garden—full property is for properties where all of the landscaping follows xeriscape principles.

Homeowner installed garden—partial property is for properties where a part of the landscaping follows xeriscaping principles.

Professionally designed and installed residential garden, full or part property.

The prize goes to the homeowner with recognition to the professional.

The best garden in each category will receive an engraved, custom designed metal garden sculpture.

For details about the contest and for the entry form go to or ask at participating garden centres.

Examples of what the judges will be looking for are principles of xeriscape such as mulching, appropriate plant selection, grouping plants by water needs, water-wise or no irrigation, and good design practices that create sustainable landscapes.

As I have mentioned before, a xeriscape garden can be created in almost any style.

The principles of xeriscape may equally be used to create a low maintenance dry hillside garden as well as a water efficient vegetable garden.

For example, in a vegetable garden, use of good soil and mulching all bare surfaces would greatly increase water retention.

Drip irrigation would optimally use water with no loss due to evaporation. Vegetables could be grouped by water needs and put on different irrigation zones.

The salad greens would need more intensive watering than the well spaced out squash plants.

Weeds compete with vegetables for water so keeping the garden weed free conserves water.

The mulch will also greatly reduce weed growth.

Another example of an eligible landscape is one where the lawn area has been reduced or eliminated and replaced with water-wise plants (see the Landscape Assessment Tool at for more details).

Also check the plant database to see which plants in your garden are water-wise.

If you have any water-wise/xeriscape landscaping on your property, I encourage you to enter to share your experience.

Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association. Learn more about gardening with nature and plants for the Okanagan on the website at


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