Steele: Take part in xeriscaping contest

This is my personal invitation to everyone to enter the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s (OXA) 2013 Garden Contest.

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

The purpose of the contest is to recognize those who have made the change to water-conserving landscaping and to increase awareness of innovations in landscaping and water use efficiency.

Stories of winning gardens will be written up in this column. Photos and the stories will be added to OXA’s website gallery.

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

If you know of a garden that is water-wise, please encourage the owner to enter, or nominate them by contacting me via emial at

There are many gardeners who want to convert to water-wise gardens.

The more local examples there are, the easier it will be for others to find out how to create a more sustainable/lower maintenance landscape.

The contest includes four categories. Three are for residential gardens—best non-professionally created small garden, best non-professionally created large garden, and best professionally designed and installed residential landscape.

The small garden could be as small as 200 square feet. The large garden might be a whole front or back yard or a whole property.

The fourth category is for the best professionally designed and installed commercial or institutional landscape.

For professionally designed landscapes, the prize goes to the garden owner, with recognition in news articles and on the OXA website, of the professionals involved.

The best garden in each category will receive an engraved, custom designed metal garden sculpture from B-line Design and a $100 gift certificate from one of four participating nurseries: Wild Bloom, Sagebrush, ILR and Bylands.

August 31 is the deadline to enter. Everyone who enters is eligible for draw prizes of gift certificates from Bartlett Tree Services and Green and Bear It Gardening Gifts and Gear ($200 total value).

Entries received by Aug. 1 are eligible for an early bird draw prize of two cubic metres of organic mulch delivered to your garden (value $100), donated by Dean Dack of Classic Compost (

For details about the contest and for the entry form, go to

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.

Key elements in a xeriscape garden are:

• appropriate plant selection, plants grouped by water needs

• mulch on all exposed soil

• minimal or no turf, or use of drought-tolerant turf

• timely maintenance

The OXA website has stories and photos of xeriscape gardens and the unH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden as well as lists of resources, an explanation of the Seven Principles of Xeriscape and a searchable plant database.

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