What Is Xeriscape Landscaping?

What is Xeriscaping? The term comes from the Greek word “xeros”, which means dry, and “scape”,  a view or scene. In 1978, some say early 1980’s, the term “Xeriscape landscaping” was coined by the Denver Water Department, in an effort to help reduce water use during the peak summer months.

For many xeriscape landscape skeptics, this is a conflict.

The conflict of using less water or restricting water use, mixed with the desire for great looking landscaped yards.


The goal in a Xeriscape Landscape Design is:

  • Create a Beautiful Landscape
  • Conserve Water
  • Protect the Environment

Xeriscaping creates an attractive landscape, conserves water, works in harmony with nature and is based on good horticultural practices. It helps you achieve an efficient landscape without too much dependence on resources which also glides to your aesthetic.

In Florida, this method of creating beautiful landscapes while conserving natural resources is called Florida-friendly landscaping.

7 Sound Principles for a Successful Landscape

What is called – 7 Sound Principles for a Successful Landscape – which are:

  • Planning and design
  • Soil analysis
  • Practical turf areas
  • Appropriate plant choices
  • Efficient irrigation
  • Use of mulches
  • Appropriate maintenance

If you are new to xeriscaping ideas (or landscaping in general), take the time to read and discover all the information that goes along with the project.

Although xeriscaping is popular in the Southwestern US, xeriscape landscaping plans and design work just as well in Florida, Maryland and Oregon… and your lawn.

Xeriscape is a concept, not a garden design or landscape style, incorporating water conservation that may be applied to any style of landscape.

Planning And Design

Make sure you have a plan. Planning and design is the foundation of any water-wise landscape. Find out where things are located on the property, consider the view, the slope and the sun exposure.

Take into consideration the existing vegetation on the site that you are intending to design.


Soil Analysis

Testing the soil is like using a ruler to measure the length of something. Instead, you are measuring the soil pH, nutrients (or lack of) and you’ll get a better idea of the soil make up.

With soil testing results in hand you can then determine what needs to be added to the soil to improve its make-up for the type of plants you plan on putting in the landscape.

Additions could be added to the soil to raise the soil’s pH, improve landscape drainage or water-holding capacity, add organic material or improving fertility.

Practical Turf Areas

Turf requires more water and more frequent care than many other landscape plants. “Appropriate” turf is part of a xeriscape design, but as a practical planned element.

Turf grass plays an important role in cooling the environment, provides a play surface for children and pets, reducing erosion, and preventing glare from the sun.

Except for providing a play area, other ground cover plants can meet those roles. Consider the desired location and size a turf area, be seasons of use and how it will be used.

Then you can determine and select the turf best suited for your space, lawn or yard, and serve your needs.

Appropriate Plant Selection

Xeriscape plants with lower water usage continue to show up in more nurseries. You’ll find many very attractive plants giving you the maximum water conservation, waiting to become beautiful plants and trees in the landscape.

Drought tolerant plants such as succulents, native grass, and wildflowers native to the area make excellent candidates for xeriscaping. You can also go for drought resistant ornamental grass such as the following:


Many are fragrant, hold attractive leaves, long blooming seasons, provide seasonal interest and come in a wide variety of colors for less irrigated parts of the landscape.

Select plants based on their intended use in your landscape design. Native species are always a good choice.

These plants were “born” to handle their native environment. However, try to purchase native plants locally grown. They already are “hardened” for the micro-climate where you live.

Some provide autumn interest with colorful foliage and fruit, while others offer winter interest with their fruit, seed stalks, and winter colors ranging from silver, to gray, to many different green and brown shades.

Efficient Irrigation

Efficient irrigation does not waste water, but applies water where it is needed. When irrigating, water should be applied as efficiently as possible.


Water waste during irrigation usually comes from lack of planning, incorrect selection type of irrigation system, required adjustment of watering timing or duration or improper sprinkler spray head adjustment.

When developing an irrigation system plan – automatic, manual, or hoses moved as needed (very inefficient) – develop the system by zones – flowerbeds, turf, groundcovers, trees and/or shrubs, each managed independently. This plays a foundational part around which your plantings are designed.

For turf areas, sprinkler systems are appropriate, but micro-spray heads, drip or bubbler systems, and soaker hoses are better suited and more appropriate for trees, shrubs, flowerbeds, annual and perennial plantings.

Use Of Mulches

Mulches minimize evaporation and reduce the amount of weed growth. Organic mulches such as wood chips or bark are porous mulches and excellent choices, reflecting less heat and keeping soil moist. They allow oxygen and water travel down to plant roots.

Do not use bark mulch on steep slopes as bark mulch washes away in heavy rains. Porous landscape fabrics are very useful to help control weeds when combined with a bark or gravel covering 3 to 4 inches thick.

Never use any solid plastic film under the mulch or anywhere else in the landscape, plastic does allow the soil to breathe.

Appropriate Maintenance

Some gardeners relax by spending time gardening, others enjoy a landscape requiring minimal time and effort. Design determines the required maintenance.

A livable landscape requires maintenance, to maintain its health, appearance but water use as well, to maximize and utilize its resources waste.

Pruning, pest management, weeding, proper fertilizing, adjusting irrigation schedules as needed or seasons change and removing trash which has blown in.

A xeriscape garden allows you to have a beautiful landscape on your lawn and backyard, without excess water use. By following the above 7 Principles For Successful Xeriscaping, you’ll have a landscape that is compatible for you and your environment.

Designing A Waterwise Landscape And Drip Irrigation System

Traditional landscape methods require a lot of time, effort and resources. You can choose from different smarter ways to make your yard look beautiful. Consider a water-wise landscaping. This article will explain how to design a landscape that works and gives you a yard your neighbors will envy.

Water-wise landscaping doesn’t mean removing all plant life from your yard. It’s a matter of using your landscape efficiently to achieve great results. The planning does not need to appear too difficult. As for the materials you will only need tape measure, paper, and pencil.

The seven basic steps to water-wise landscaping include planning & design, preparing the soil, creating practical turf areas, selecting water-efficient plants, using mulch, official irrigation, and proper maintenance.

For any home improvement project where you need to do some digging, call 811 to contact your utility companies. The utility men will mark underground service lines you need to avoid while digging. Moreover, check the local ordinances for landscaping.

While considering the mark, draw a plan of your property to start the landscaping design. Try to make a scale and include things like your house, deck or patio, and trees. Note the compass directions and areas of shade or full sun.

Also mark areas that others will frequently see such as your front yard and private areas. Visible areas usually require more maintenance.

This now serves as a basic map of your property. Produce a few copies so you can experiment on different landscape designs. Mark any future hardscape addition such as a deck or a patio.

You don’t need to completely change your landscape at once. Just make some basic changes now and finish the rest later.

Next, establish water use zones. Water use zones refer to the amount of water needed by plants in different areas of your yard. This will help in your plant selection.

You need to know about the three types of zones: arid, transitional, and oasis. Arid zones do not require much supplemental watering which makes an ideal place for drought-tolerant plants. Moreover, landscapers usually find the arid zone away from the house which gets full sun.

Transitional zone requires a moderate watering schedule. On the other hand, oasis zone areas require high water use. Typically, oasis zones comes highly visible in the front yard next to the house or in your patio or deck.

Creating practical turf areas makes one of the best techniques to forming a water-wise landscape. Choose a type of grass appropriate for your climate. If you live in the northern region, you should use cool season grass varieties like ryegrasses, bluegrasses, and fescues.

In the south, St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass or Zoyszia grass would make a great lawn. You can find regionally mixed seeds at your local Lowe’s store as the correct seed mixture no matter where you are in the country.

After establishing your water use zones, time to select plants. Use plants appropriate to your growing region. To find your region, go to Lowes.com/Plants.

Plants that work well in the southwest may not work so well in the northeast. If you need help finding plants for your region, ask a Lowe’s associate for help. When you try to determine where to place the plants on your design, group them accordingly to their needs and place them in the appropriate water use zones.

By following these steps, you will acquire new and great ideas on how to design a water-wise landscape for your home. You can watch how to plan a water-wise landscaping videos at Lowes.com/Videos for more visuals. You can print out some of their instructions. Also, they provide extra tips, list of complete tools and materials list to help transform your yard.

Installation Of Waterwise Landscape

After planning the design, selecting the plants, identifying different watering zones, and creating practical turf areas, you can now install the water-wise landscape.

Prepare The Soil

Following the plan, convert some other grass areas to planting beds, and prepare the soil. The ground should contain rich amount of nutrients and hold water just long enough for plants to hydrate. Rocky or sandy soil would drain too quickly. On the other hand, clay prevents proper drainage.

To improve the soil, add some organic material or compost. You should also do a soil test for your landscape. Buy some testing kits to examine the soil and make necessary adjustments for a healthy plant-base.

After prepping the soil, go ahead and add your plants. Follow the planting instructions on the tags. You can use features like stones and rocks to help break up the area.

Watering The Landscape

Place plants requiring moderate watering in the transitional zone. This area gets natural drainage, while the oasis zone houses the plants needing more water.

Avoid watering the entire landscape by hand. A lot of the water evaporates before it ever gets to the roots and area that doesn’t need water gets drenched. Instead, install an irrigation system.

Drip systems serve as excellent solutions. You need an irrigation kit & accessories, mason’s string & stakes, a hammer, a trenching shovel, utility knife, work gloves, and safety glasses.

In most cases, start by marking your system’s path using mason’s string and stakes. Position the stakes where you’ll place the water meters. Use a trenching shovel to dig along the lines.

Next, connect the backflow preventer, the pressure regulator, and filter to the water supply. Lay the lengths of your system along the trenches. Connect the tubing and fittings.

Turn on the water to flush any dirt out of the system and attach the emitters. You can use many different types of emitters. Check the printable instructions for more information. Also install a timer if you got one and cover the trenches after testing the system.

You can still water smaller plants by hand but avoid overwatering. Tap water systems like sprinklers only work ideal for turf areas. Use a rain gauge to monitor and prevent overwatering. Most lawns require about three-quarters to one inch of water per week so keep an eye on the weather reports and take advantage of any rainfall.

Watering the plants early in the morning serves as the best practice. Watering in the heat of the day won’t cause much effect due to evaporation. On the other hand, watering at night will leave too much moisture on the leaves, promoting diseases.

Adding Mulch

After installing the irrigation system, you can add mulch to your beds, another step to a water-wise landscape. Mulch acts as shield to reduce moisture loss and limits weed growth. It also moderates the soil temperature. Add about 2 inch to 4 inch to your beds for healthy plants.

Proper maintenance functions as the last principle of a water-wise landscape. Don’t mow your lawn too short. Grass blades need the proper length for photosynthesis.

When applying fertilizer, spread it evenly over the plant’s root zone. Dumping the fertilizer in one spot and allowing the fertilizer to sit on the leaves causing the fertilizer to burn.

Source: Weekendgardener | Potted Head | Jay@MorphoLA

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