What Is Xeriscape?
Curious how Xeriscaping works? These seven components can help you design the yard of your dreams, while saving you time and money in the process.
1. Planning and Designing
Make a scale drawing of your lot. Identify sunny, shady, and
sloped areas. Determine how much room you need for family
activities. Design zones to include plants with similar
2. Soil Improvement
Appropriate soil will do more than anything else to help a
plant consume all the moisture available to it. Soil
improvement may mean changing the physical structure with
decomposed organic matter. It's easier to select plants that
can grow in your soil's existing pH than try to change the
acidity or alkalinity. If the situation seems hopeless,
consider raised beds with imported topsoil.
Lawns are the highest users of water and require the greatest
maintenance. Fescue and buffalograss are two of the most
popular Xeriscape grasses. They are relatively
drought-resistant and tolerant of varying soil conditions. They
will thrive on low maintenance. A new variety of lawn, Ecoturf,
is becoming popular. It combines grass and low growing
perennials. Consider decks, patios or hardscapes wherever possible.
4. Plant Selection
Research the library, nurseries, and Internet for plants to fit
each zone. Base your decisions on climate, drought tolerance,
your budget, and aesthetics. The hardiest plants will be
native. Feel free to intersperse herbs, vegetables and berries in the
5. Efficient Irrigation
Select a system that will water each zone most efficiently.
Low-volume, low-angle sprinklers work best on grass. Drip,
spray or bubbler emitters are most efficient on flowers, shrubs
and groundcover. Timers are used to provide the right amount of
water to each zone. Dragging the hose around is an option that
still requires the right sprinkler and watering time.
Mulches in the form of bark, gravel or crushed rock should be 2
to 4 inches deep. They conserve moisture, control weeds and add
visual interest. Apply the mulch directly over landscape
Maintenance includes weeding, feeding, pruning, pest control,
and watering. How much time you spend on these activities is
directly related to your initial planning and design.
Xeriscape is a registered trademark of Denver Water,
Denver, CO and is used here with permission.