Xerscaping

Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping.

Benefits

  • Saves Water
    For most of North America, over 60% of residential water is used is applied to landscape and lawns.   Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 - 75%. 

  • Less Maintenance
    Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal.   Watering requirements are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems. 

  • No Fertilizers or Pesticides
    Using plants native to our area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements.   Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil. 

  • Improves Property Value
    A good xeriscaped site can raise property values, which is more than offset the cost of installation.   Protect your landscaping investment by drought-proof it. 

  • Pollution Free
    Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas.   Small turf areas can be maintained with a reel mower. 

  • Provides Wildlife Habitat
    Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife. 

The Seven Principles of Xeriscaping

Planning for Water Conservation

Evaluate your property and design a plan incorporating your particular characteristics.  Think long term (2 - 3 years) in planning.  Answer these questions:

  • How will you use your site?
  • What amount of sun and shade does it receive?
  • What type of soil do you have and how does it drain?
  • Are there any slopes or puddle-collecting depressions?
  • What competition do other landscape elements present?

Improving the soil and Using Mulches

Examine your soil type for proper water holding capacity and drainage.   Try adding organic matter, such as compost or mulch to help retain moisture in the soil and decrease soil compaction.   Mulch is used on top of planting beds while compost is usually dug into the soil.

Mulches can be Organic:

  • Wood chips
  • Shredded wood
  • Pine needles
  • Grass clippings
  • Coarse peat


Mulches can be Inorganic:

  • Crushed stone
  • Gravel

Using Alternative Ground Cover Rather than Grass

One option is to reduce the amount of lawn you have by selecting other types of groundcovers.

Groundcovers can be Organic:

  • Choose cool-season grass type with lower fertilizer requirements, such as a mixture of one the fescue grasses (creeping red, chewing's, sheep, tall and hard fescue) with a finely textured "turf type" perennial ryegrass.

Groundcovers can be Inorganic:

  • Interlocking paving stones
  • Cement patio
  • Crushed stone walkways

Collecting Rainwater

Plants and trees love rainwater, so why not give them all you can?

Try some of these techniques:

  • Raise the soil around each shrub and tree to form a mini basin.

Use gutters and downspouts, you can catch rainwater and channel it to your landscape or catch it in rain barrel and use it during dry periods 

Using Highly Effective Watering Methods

Water your Xeriscape garden early in the morning to avoid excessive evaporation and burning of plants.   Make sure you only water the lawn and planted areas and not the pavement.   Water heavily (one inch) once a week. 

Pruning and Maintenance Practices

If you've used fertilizer on any of your plantings, they will need a lot of water to grow (a slow release fertilizer and compost is best).   Pruning and thinning out of trees and shrubs not only shows them off more, it also saves water.   Make sure you don't overdo it or tree bark will get sunburned and soil will dry out.   

Selecting Low Water Use Plants

  • Check out the variety ofdrought-tolerant plants available at your local garden center.
  • Try experimenting with a small area first.
  • Native plants are ideal for water wise gardens because they are generally more resistant to disease and pests.
  • Walk around uncultivated areasaround your neighborhood to get an idea which native plants do well in your locale.
  • Almost all bulbs are drought-tolerant, making them ideal choices for water wise gardens.
Plant TypeBotanical NameCommon Name
Annuals Artemisia stellariana Dusty miller
 Annuals Heleanthus spp. Sunflower
 Annuals Portulaca Moss rose
 Annuals Verbena Verbena
Ground Covers Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry
 Ground Covers Coronilla varia Crown vetch
 Ground Covers Potentilla 'Yellow Gem' Yellow gem cinquefoil
Perennials Cichorium intybus Chicory
 Perennials Artemisia spp. Wormwood
 Perennials Anaphalis Pearly everlasting
 Perennials Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly milkweed
 Perennials Tradescantia spp. Spiderwort
 Perennials Hemerocallis spp. Daylily
 Perennials Achillea spp. Yarrow
 Perennials Lavandula angustifolia Lavender
 Perennials Stachys lanata Lambs ears
 Perennials Solidago virgaurea Goldenrod
 Perennials Sempervivum Hens & chicks
 Perennials Coronilla varia Crown vetch
 Perennials Arabis Rock cress
Shrubs Cotinus coggygtia Smoke bush
 Shrubs Taxus spp. Yew
 Shrubs Juniperus spp. Juniper
 Shrubs Potentilla spp. Cinquefoil
 Shrubs Aronia arbutifolia Wild cherry
Trees Celtis occidentalis Iron wood
 Trees Elaeagnus angustifolia Russian olive
 Trees Juniperus virginiana Upright juniper
Vines Lonicera japonica Climbing honeysuckle