What’s Xeriscaping? – Lawnstarter

xeriscape landscape

Bored with spending tons of cash to maintain your garden inexperienced in the summertime? If you happen to’re questioning what’s xeriscaping, you’re heading in the right direction to an exquisite and resilient backyard with much less water utilization and decrease payments. 

Xeriscaping makes use of drought-tolerant vegetation and water-efficient irrigation programs to design colourful, low-maintenance landscapes. It can save you as much as 60% in watering prices whereas having fun with an exquisite mixture of native grasses, flowers, shrubs, and timber. On this article, we talk about all the advantages of xeriscaping and the rules that go into it. You’ll additionally examine panorama design concepts and water conservation ideas you possibly can strive proper now.

What’s Xeriscaping About?

Xeriscaping is all about creating stunning, drought-resilient gardens that use much less water. The identify comes from including the Greek phrase “xeros,” that means “dry,” to the English “landscaping.” Roughly translated as “dry-scape,” xeriscaping can be known as:

  • “Sensible scaping”
  • “Drought-tolerant landscaping”
  • “Water-conserving landscaping”

Because of spelling or talking errors, the phrases “xeroscaping” and “zeroscaping” are additionally used. “Zeroscaping” is usually chosen to consult with a type of backyard design that makes use of little to no vegetation, specializing in mulch, gravel, and rocks. 

The concept of xeriscaping was framed within the early ’80s by the Denver Water Division as an answer to chop down water consumption throughout droughts. It’s based mostly on changing thirsty, grassy lawns with drought-tolerant vegetation, mulch, and rocks and utilizing water-wise irrigation programs. 

Xeriscaping vs. Conventional Lawns

Lush, inexperienced turfgrass lawns are a cultural image for the normal American dwelling. Protecting over 128,000 sq. kilometers, they’re essentially the most irrigated nonfood crop within the U.S. However with extra persistent warmth waves and droughts, they’re now not one of the simplest ways to make use of land and cash. 

With as much as 60% much less water utilization and rising in reputation, xeriscaping gardens may be the reply to this downside. Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at the principle variations between the 2 choices to your yard.

Xeriscaping Conventional Lawns
• Makes use of drought-tolerant, native vegetation requiring much less water and fertilizers.
• Limits turfgrass, changing it with native floor covers, mulch, or gravel.
• Has a extra wild, rocky aesthetic.
• Drought-resistant – retains its colours and vitality throughout warmth waves.
• Makes use of as much as 60% much less water than conventional landscapes.
• Usually makes use of imported, non-native grasses that want extra care, water, and fertilizers.
• Consists of giant areas of thirsty, grassy garden requiring frequent irrigation.
• Has a lush, tender, uniform look.
• Vegetation typically dry out throughout droughts, leaving the backyard brown and naked.
• Nationwide, conventional lawns use about 9 billion gallons of water per day.

Decreasing water consumption is the middle of xeriscaping, however the advantages of this gardening fashion don’t cease there. 

Advantages of Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping isn’t just for instances of drought. It has loads of advantages for householders and the higher surroundings past conserving water. Study concerning the many advantages of xeriscaping beneath.

Water Conservation

Do you know that almost one-third of the residential water consumption within the U.S. goes to panorama irrigation? Through the use of drought-tolerant vegetation and environment friendly irrigation strategies, xeriscaping can scale back the quantity of water wanted to keep up a panorama by as much as 60%.

Within the city of Novato, California, municipalities provided incentives for changing conventional lawns into xeriscaped yards. The properties that took the deal registered 120 gallons much less in every day water consumption. 

Enhance Biodiversity

Xeriscaping can create a wide range of habitats inside a single yard. Utilizing native vegetation has a number of advantages for the native wildlife, similar to offering shelter and meals for:

  • Useful bugs (i.e. ladybugs, inexperienced lacewings)
  • Native pollinators (i.e. bees, butterflies, ants, wasps, hummingbirds)
  • Songbirds (i.e. blue jays, cardinals, titmice)

Utilizing fewer pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers, xeriscaping can be an efficient technique within the effort to guard the bees.


Xeriscape gardens are simpler to keep up than conventional gardens. The low-maintenance is generally on account of:

  • The usage of native, drought-resistant vegetation that require fewer fertilizers and pesticides than imported grasses and vegetation
  • Changing turf grasses with decorative grasses that want much less mowing (or none in any respect)
  • Utilizing focused irrigation and mulch, which prevents weeds and reduces the necessity for herbicides

Total, with xeriscaping, you possibly can count on to avoid wasting as much as 60% in yard upkeep prices in comparison with conventional landscaping.

Environmental Advantages

Targeted on utilizing the native soil and local weather as pure robust factors, xeriscaping comes with large advantages for the surroundings:

  • Much less poisonous chemical substances – Water, soil, and wildlife are much less uncovered to pesticides and chemical fertilizers. 
  • Prevents runoff – Runoff is lowered by way of mulch and xeric floor covers similar to sedum or blue fescue.
  • Creates resilient pure habitats – Xeriscaping promotes native, drought-resistant vegetation, typically uncared for in conventional landscaping. They create resilient, complicated wildlife habitats supporting biodiversity.


Opposite to in style perception, xeriscaping design may be breathtaking, and the choices are numerous. You may go for a rock backyard, enjoying with totally different colours, shapes, and textures of stones and only a few vegetation. Or select a cottage design that fills the area with colourful vegetation of all shapes and sizes, from quick grasses to tall shrubs and timber full of flowers. 


Xeriscaping can scale back upkeep prices and water payments by as much as 60%. Such landscapes don’t require mowing and wish fewer fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. They are going to nonetheless require some trimming and pruning to maintain the vegetation wholesome, however that’s one thing you are able to do your self each infrequently with a couple of cheap instruments. 

Low Danger of Pests and Illness

Drought-tolerant vegetation are much less vulnerable to pests and ailments. You may enhance their resistance by mixing vegetation that help and shield one another. Discuss to a horticulture skilled (maybe out of your native county extension service) to search out out extra about this.

Xeriscaping advantages are laborious to disregard, however how precisely do you get from a conventional panorama to a xeriscape backyard? Let’s begin with the supplies you’ll want after which see how you place all of them collectively.

Xeriscaping Supplies

A profitable xeriscaping construction makes use of a couple of important parts and supplies. These are:

  • Xeriscaping vegetation: herbs, shrubs, timber, or wildflowers that want minimal water, both native or from climates much like yours
  • Mulch: bark chips, grass clippings, dried leaves, straw, gravel, and small rocks used to cowl the soil
  • Landscaping rocks: pea gravel, lava rock, river rock, cobblestone, decomposed granite, pavers, and different varieties of rocks that add construction, coloration, and quantity to the panorama
  • Drip irrigation system: an alternative choice to conventional sprinklers that waters the roots of vegetation immediately, losing a lot much less water

Again within the ‘80s, the Denver Water Division outlined 7 rules to information householders to create practical xeriscape gardens with these supplies. Let’s see how these easy and sensible tips look in the present day.

The 7 Ideas of Xeriscaping

Targeted on the principle adjustments it’s good to make to a conventional panorama, these rules may also help you efficiently handle a xeriscaping mission from begin to end.

1. Plan and Design

Begin by drawing a diagram to scale, together with all the weather already in your out of doors area that you simply intend to maintain. Embody:

  • The home and driveway
  • Walkways, patios, gazebos
  • Bushes, bushes, and different native, drought-tolerant vegetation already in your property

Divide the remaining area relying on what goal you wish to give to every part. For instance:

  • A display view to make the yard extra personal and maintain mud at bay
  • A xeric perennial backyard with flowers or fragrant vegetation
  • A play space to your kids
  • Bushes for shade

Within the areas reserved for planting, draw every plant at maturity to scale and point out its identify. Now you’ve your planting plan.

2. Check and Amend the Soil

Profitable xeriscaping wants well-drained soil that can be capable of take up water effectively. Good soil permits timber and vegetation to develop deep roots and entry moisture from the decrease layers of the bottom. It additionally reduces irrigation and fertilization wants.

To organize the soil for xeriscaping:

  • Check the soil in a lab.
  • Use the right amendments to enhance texture and vitamins.
  • Until the soil completely to aerate, enhance the construction, and mix the amendments deep sufficient.

3. Plan and Set Up an Environment friendly Irrigation System

Since decreasing water use is the principle goal of xeriscaping, utilizing environment friendly irrigation programs to keep away from water waste is a should. How will you use water properly? There are three issues you are able to do at this stage:

  • Set up drip irrigation or soaker hoses the place doable (for timber, shrubs, and flower beds).
  • The place it’s good to use sprinkler programs, plan for spray nozzles with giant droplets and decrease angles to cut back wind drift.
  • Group collectively vegetation with comparable daylight and watering wants.

4. Use Mulch

Mulch is a layer of natural and inorganic materials unfold on high of the soil. It’s important in xeriscaping as a result of it:

  • Retains the plant roots cool
  • Prevents water evaporation
  • Reduces topsoil crusting 
  • Promotes water absorption
  • Decreases runoff
  • Limits weed progress

You should utilize wooden grindings, bark chips, rocks, and gravel as cheap mulch. You may even discover some mulching supplies at no cost.

5. Put the Proper Vegetation within the Proper Place

From a planting perspective, a profitable xeriscape design requires two issues:

  • Selecting the best vegetation to your native local weather and soil
  • Planting them in the appropriate spot

Drought-tolerant vegetation that do properly within the scorching deserts of Arizona may not be appropriate for the milder local weather of Wichita. Search on-line for native vegetation particular to your area or go to the native greenery and ask for suggestions.

One other solution to protect water is by grouping vegetation with comparable water and lightweight necessities collectively. Develop:

  • Drought-resistant species with low-water wants within the areas which are uncovered to the daylight essentially the most, on slopes and hilly areas
  • Vegetation that require extra water within the shadow of timber, the home, or different tall vegetation and close to downspouts the place water collects throughout rainfall

6. Restrict Turfgrass Surfaces

Since turfgrasses want quite a lot of water to maintain their inexperienced, contemporary look, xeriscaping limits their presence. You may substitute them with drought-tolerant grasses or xeric low-growing floor covers.

7. Xeriscaping Upkeep

Xeriscaping requires much less upkeep than conventional landscaping, however it nonetheless must be cared for. Right here’s what it’s good to regulate:

  • Irrigation system – test it regularly to verify it’s working correctly and with none leaks.
  • Mulch – be sure the layer is thick sufficient to stop water evaporation.
  • Vegetation – trim and prune periodically to keep away from overgrowth and maintain water necessities in test.

Whereas these xeriscaping rules are widespread to all varieties of xeriscaping gardens, designs can differ lots. Let’s see a few of the hottest examples.

Xeriscape Design Concepts

Xeriscaping design varies with soil, local weather, and the way you need your backyard to look. Standard xeriscaping design concepts embrace:

  • Gravel and rock gardens – mimic a pure rocky outcropping utilizing gravel and rocks of various sizes, colours, and textures, plus cacti, succulents, and different drought-tolerant vegetation. 
  • Cactus gardens – are designed round a wide range of cacti and different succulent vegetation, wanting like a desert panorama with rocks, gravel, and different drought-resistant vegetation.
  • Rain gardens – embrace a shallow despair within the panorama that collects and shops rainwater to irrigate vegetation with out losing water. 
  • Mediterranean gardens – are xeriscaping designs with vegetation and design parts typical of the Mediterranean local weather, similar to olive timber, lavender, and rosemary. 
  • Prairie gardens – have colourful designs that function a wide range of native grasses, wildflowers, and different xeriscape vegetation which are typical of the prairie ecosystem.
  • Xeriscape lawns – function lawns of low-water grasses, similar to buffalo grass and fescue grass, which can be utilized for turf as a substitute of conventional garden grasses.
  • Pocket forests – ultra-dense planted areas with indigenous timber and shrubbery meant to advertise biodiversity. They’re drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, and appropriate for giant properties similar to public areas, colleges, and so on. 

These are only a few examples of xeriscaping design concepts to contemplate. To create a profitable mission, it’s important to decide on the perfect mixture of native vegetation to your local weather. Listed here are some examples to contemplate.

Kinds of Xeriscaping Vegetation

Select xeriscaping vegetation that go well with the local weather and soil of your out of doors area. Combine numerous species to create a wealthy ecosystem and have flowers from early spring to late fall. Listed here are the principle classes to contemplate.

Cacti and Succulents

Succulents and cacti can survive with minimal water. They’re widespread in gravel and rocky gardens and in cactus gardens.

Some stunning examples are: 

  • San Pedro Cactus
  • Whale’s Tongue Agave
  • Pink Yucca
  • Beavertail Cactus


Colourful wildflowers are an important a part of cottage designs and prairie gardens. They will additionally add variety to rocky gardens. Select native species similar to:

  • Sonoma Sage
  • California Sagebrush
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Tickseed

Drought-Tolerant Grasses and Groundcovers 

Groundcovers and decorative grasses can substitute conventional thirsty garden grasses to preserve water. Some in style choices are: 

  • Buffalo grass
  • Fescue grass
  • Hardy yellow
  • Shore juniper
  • Pussytoes


Use shrubs so as to add vertical layers and depth to your backyard. They supply construction and create eco-friendly habitats for wildlife. Contemplate drought-resistant species similar to: 

  • Sagebrush
  • Rabbitbrush
  • Manzanita

Xeriscaping Bushes

Plant Joshua tree, desert willow, mesquite, and different drought-hardy timber. Xeric timber can present shade to bugs, birds, and vegetation much less tolerant to direct daylight. Contemplate drought-tolerant timber similar to: 

  • Joshua tree
  • Desert willow 
  • Mesquite

Mediterranean Vegetation

Contemplate olive timber, lavender, and rosemary if aiming for a Mediterranean fashion. They’re beautiful additions and convey an enthralling perfume to your property and out of doors area.

Just some drought-tolerant vegetation are appropriate to your space. Seek the advice of with a horticulturist or a neighborhood nursery skilled to search out the perfect xeriscaping vegetation to your backyard. They will even make it easier to amend the soil correctly. 

Fertilizers and Soil Amendments for Xeriscaping

A wholesome and resilient xeriscaping backyard wants good soil. Listed here are some widespread soil amendments you should use to enhance it if needed.

  • Compost is a pure fertilizer made out of natural supplies. It’s wealthy in vitamins and useful microorganisms. Use it to enhance soil construction and fertility. You may put together it DIY utilizing this composting information.
  • Mulch decomposes slowly in time, including vitamins and enhancing the soil construction.
  • Natural fertilizers are a superb supply of slow-release vitamins. In addition they assist useful microorganisms and enhance soil texture. Most are manufactured from bone meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, or kelp meal. 
  • Rock mud is made out of crushed rock wealthy in minerals and hint parts. It dietary supplements the soil’s vitamins and improves vegetation’ total well being.
  • Gypsum is a pure mineral you should use to interrupt up compacted soils. It additionally provides calcium to the bottom, an important nutrient for vegetation.
  • Iron chelate can be utilized to right iron deficiencies in vegetation. This improves the general well being of the xeriscape panorama.

Selecting the best vegetation and amending the soil are all about conserving water. So let’s see what else you are able to do to decrease your water payments.

Water Conservation Ideas for Xeriscaping

With vegetation resilient to drought and an environment friendly irrigation system, saving water is simple. However you are able to do much more. Listed here are some ideas and tips to maintain your backyard inexperienced and wholesome with much less water.

Water Throughout the Early Morning or Late Night

Irrigate early morning or late night. The temperature drops at first and finish of every day, so extra water will attain the roots as a substitute of evaporating. 

Await the Wind to Calm Down

Are you continue to utilizing sprinklers in your backyard? Keep away from turning them on whereas it’s windy. Air currents will spray a lot of the water away from the soil. 

Irrigate Deeply and Sometimes

Deep and fewer typically irrigation helps vegetation grow to be extra proof against drought. They develop robust, lengthy roots that faucet deep into the bottom the place moisture is secure from the warmth. 

Harvest Rainwater

Gather the water in barrels, cisterns, and swales when it rains. Rainwater is usually more healthy to your vegetation than faucet water. Rainfall additionally makes for a helpful reserve you should use throughout extended droughts.

Adapt to Season Adjustments

Scale back irrigation when it rains and enhance it throughout dry seasons. This manner, you forestall vegetation from rotting and maintain your backyard stunning and wholesome.

Xeriscaping Prices

The typical xeriscaping mission prices $10,000 to $19,000 with skilled set up. Pricing differs relying on the next:

  • Location
  • Local weather
  • Soil
  • Backyard dimension
  • Kinds of vegetation
  • Design fashion and complexity. 

You may work with a panorama contractor from the design course of to the ultimate touches to make the method quicker and easier. Or rent a designer for as much as $200 per hour, then do the work of set up your self. 

Don’t have $10,000 to drop proper now? That’s okay. Begin small. Exchange one part of your garden with mulch or nix your sprinklers and set up a easy DIY drip irrigation system. Even small adjustments can vastly scale back water consumption over time, and for those who maintain making adjustments, you’ll have a complete xeriscape in a couple of years. 

Xeriscaping Case Research

Want some inspiration to your xeriscaping backyard? Listed here are three superb tasks which you could go to and analysis.

The Water Conservation Backyard at Cuyamaca School in San Diego

Protecting almost 6 acres of land, the Water Conservation Backyard is a pleasant place to find out about xeriscaping. Go to their themed gardens to see native vegetation and water-wise greens. Or attend the how-to reveals the place you possibly can find out about mulch and irrigation.

The Denver Botanic Gardens in Colorado

The Denver Botanic Gardens cowl over 23 acres and begin with European and coastal designs. Within the xeriscaping part, the land is roofed with numerous native and drought-resistant vegetation price seeing, similar to: 

  • Pawnee Buttes sand cherry
  • The “ice plant” introduced from Africa
  • The Persian rose
  • lilacs
  • bearded irises
  • peonies

The Dwelling Roof on the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco

The Dwelling Roof is a implausible instance of modern xeriscaping. It’s lined with numerous drought-tolerant vegetation that assist scale back water utilization. In addition they enhance insulation whereas offering a habitat for native wildlife.

Legal guidelines similar to Florida Statute 373.185 and Colorado HB21-1229 forestall HOAs from prohibiting water-saving landscaping practices. They permit landowners to xeriscape in HOA communities the place conventional landscaping is the norm. 

Nonetheless, HOAs nonetheless must approve the design. So, for those who reside in an HOA neighborhood, use these tricks to enhance your probabilities of approval: 

  • Make an in depth plan and current it to the HOA members.
  • Add photos with the vegetation and supplies you propose to make use of.
  • Insert visible examples with designs that impressed your mission.
  • Start together with your yard.
  • Begin with small adjustments, similar to changing turf grass with flower beds, and go from there.


What’s an instance of xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping may be so simple as changing a grassy garden with drought-tolerant floor covers, mulch, and gravel.

What’s the distinction between landscaping and xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a particular kind of landscaping that focuses on saving water. It requires fewer fertilizers and pesticides than conventional panorama design and makes use of native vegetation that thrive with much less water.

What are the disadvantages of xeriscaping?

Some cons that xeriscaping comes with are:

• Putting in the xeriscaping parts (vegetation, rocks, irrigation) takes time, work, and cash.
• Some designs, like cactus and rock gardens, can look sparse and naked.
• You may miss the tender, lush carpet look of a grassy garden.

Begin Your Xeriscaping Backyard Immediately!

Already in style in western America, xeriscaping may also help you retain an exquisite yard with decrease payments irrespective of the place you reside. It’s all about placing collectively the right drought-tolerant vegetation to your soil and local weather, with mulch, rocks, and an environment friendly irrigation system. You are able to do this your self or discover a native landscaping firm to begin your xeriscaping backyard in the present day!

Fundamental Picture Credit score: Kim Grosz / Canva Professional / License

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon is a content material author with a background in schooling and drugs, captivated with sustainable gardening, renewable vitality, and wholesome cooking. She spends her free time swimming, studying, taking good care of her backyard, and testing new recipes.

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