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The Grand Xeriscape

By Bill Nye | Published: February 2, 2010 – 2:20 pm

It’s dry in Southern California. Even when it’s raining, it’s a dry Mediterranean or semi-arid climate. So, we do what we can to conserve water. By long tradition, humans in our culture want a front yard. Well, setting up a water-gulping grass lawn is not going to help things around here, and of course, it would not help me crush Ed Begley.

So, I just finished what we call a “xeriscape,” a dry landscape. Xeri [ZIH-rih] is a Greek prefix that means “dry.” Just a few centimeters below the rocks and other mulch is a network of tubing that drips a very small flow of water about once a week. I say about once a week, because the whole system is connected to an elegant modern controller that monitors rainfall and air humidity to regulate the flow to the drought-tolerant, low water use, native species plants. How cool is all this? Passersby tell me everyday that they like the way it looks. Do they say that about Begley’s unruly xeri-tangle? I think not. Take that Begley! Ha!

Tubing farm

Catchment plumbing

Bill's Xeriscape

8 Responses to “The Grand Xeriscape”

  1. Hi Bill! I think your xeriscape looks great! My fiancee and I LOVE watching you and Ed on TV. We’ve been so inspired by Stuff Happens and Living With Ed, along with No Impact Man (have you heard of him? Great documentary!), that we’ve decided to dedicate the next year to learning about plastic and bringing no new plastic into our lives. We’re documenting it on It’s a newbie site for the moment. We’re four days into the experiment, and already I’ve learned so much and opened my eyes to the fact that plastic is EVERYWHERE! Holy cow! On Day 1, we went to the grocery store (with our homemade produce bags) and connected with so many people because they were inspired by our efforts not to use plastic. We thought we’d made it home without any, only to find out that the parchment they wrapped around our cheese was lined in plastic!! Ugg!!! Oh well. Now we’re probably going to potty train our cat, too. I know the traditional method takes weeks, but I’m going to try kitty telepathy and see if she will do it a lot sooner.
    I love your show!!
    Melanie :)

  2. Alanna says:

    I used to watch your show when I was a wee child, up until I didn’t have a TV to watch anymore. So good.

    I just wanted to say you have the cutest house in the universe. Cheers!

  3. I just discovered your website and I love the Crush Ed entries. I applaud your efforts to conserve water. It truly is our most precious resource. Your front yard looks great!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Looks great, Bill! Killed my grass here in Virginia years ago and started planting prairie plants and tough groundcover. Looks better and the bees and birds love it. Great site, keep up the good work!

  5. mohamed says:

    kour0 ojuuti

  6. In our somewhat soggy climate I have used greenspace to divert and absorb rainwater to reduce erosion. I like using natural elements to solve problems and it was interesting to see someone use an opposite approach to solve the opposite type of problem. In other news, I posted a link to this site in what is currently my primary webstite which is aimed at creative people, despite its politicly incorrect name.

  7. Family4Earth says:

    Our family loved the show!

    Love all of the work you are doing! It’s been very inspiring to our own home.

    We are currently on your site today for science fair project info. Loved the Crush Ed link! :)

    Keep up the great work! What are you working on now?

  8. Kate Dircksen says:

    Do you know which snake stands out as the longest?

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