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  A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate 

knot garden with herbs  
The photo of this knot garden was taken at the now-closed Desert Demonstration Garden in Las Vegas.   Shrubby herbs, surrounded by roses, were used to create the pattern.  

Replacing your lawn
with a knot garden or maze

We have now seen several small front yards where mazes have been created from carefully trimmed boxwood. Because the boxwood is kept short, no one will become lost in the front yard and the pattern can be intriguing. In one, a bloom-ladened rose bush marked the center of the maze. This formal design, an historic European style, complements the traditional 2 story homes found in many newer communities in the American Southwest. The second story allows the homeowner to look down and enjoy the pattern.

If you want to use boxwood, Korean boxwood (Buxus koreana) is best for a maze in a desert climate. This slow-grower (which means you don't have to trim it very often) can take both heat and freezing cold temperatures. It needs regular watering. English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) does poorly in hot, dry climates and often simply dies in the heat.

Boxwood is also being used to create parterres in some gardens. These are squares with boxwood used as neatly trimmed edging plants. In the center of these squares perennials, such as roses, are planted.

A knot garden, another European tradition, is also beginning to emerge as a new design solution for xeriscape front yards. Many Mediterranean herbs often used in knot gardens, such as lavender, germander and santolina, thrive in desert climates. None of these herbs are long lived, so within a few years you may have to replace them but in the meantime, you, the bees and butterflies will enjoy them. And they require much less water than lawn. 

Replacing your lawn -- read this for what NOT to do

Replacing your lawn with perennials

Replacing your lawn with ornamental grasses

Replacing your lawn with ground covers

Replacing your lawn with pavers

Replacing the lawn in your parking strip


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