Who wants a garden that requires minimal to now maintenance? If you answered yes then you need to look into xeriscaping. It takes a little more planning to cultivate a xeriscape garden, but the rewards in the form of easy care and low watering can extend for years.
This is especially true for folks who live in dry climates, but a xeriscape garden can work in any region. Xeriscaping can save you money on watering and give you pride in a lawn and garden that is better for the environment.
As mentioned above, a xeriscaping is much less reliant on water than traditional gardens. It involves planting species that are drought resistant and require very little water beyond what is provided by the natural climate of the region.
This type of landscaping has been embraced by many U.S. states in the west, where droughts are common and where it has become necessary to limit lawn watering.
What makes this form of gardening beneficial to the environment is that it only uses vegetation that is common in the area, so there is no need to use extra natural resources to force them to live in an area to which they are not adapted.
How Does Xeriscaping Work?
Local plants that have adapted to your climate, which are called xerophytes, are selective planted to create a garden that requires little to no maintenance.
In addition to choosing the right plants for a xeriscaped yard, you also need to make sure you have planned for efficient irrigation to make the most of what little water you do have to use. Soaker hoses and drips move water directly to the base of the plants so that most of the water is used by the plants instead of evaporated. Moreover, grouping plants with similar water needs together can help use less water as well.
Once you have your xeriscaped yard set up with the right plants and proper irrigation, you will find that it takes less maintenance than a yard that is dependent on water. This is because you won’t have to ensure there has been enough rain to support your landscape and you won’t have to remember to water your lawn if there hasn’t been enough rain. Moreover, lawn mowing can be a chore of the past!
Types of Plants
While you don’t have to even have plants in a xeriscaped lawn, most homeowners do want some green in their yard. A very popular plant seen in xeriscapes is the cactus, of which there are numerous types. Cacti have evolved to thrive in dry climates, such as deserts. For instance, spines have taken the place of leaves, which warn water-seeking animals away. Their waxy coating preserves water better than bark, and their thick “stems” allow for extra water storage.
Cacti are probably the type of plant the first springs to mind when considering a xeriscaped lawn, but they are not the only plants that are considered drought-resistant. Agave, lavender, and juniper all do well in low-water areas, and herbs like sage, oregano, and thyme can be planted in a xeriscaped lawn for both visual and practical purposes. Other food-bearing plants like the black walnut tree, sapodilla, and Jerusalem artichokes work well in dry climates as well.
Besides plants, many other materials can be added to a xeriscaped yard to make it look amazing while still requiring very little water and being environmentally friendly. For example, mulches, such as wood chips or river rock, reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool so that it does not need as much water. Be aware that some plants prefer rock, while others thrive in wood chips, so research which is better for the plants you’ve selected before choosing your mulch.
Other attractive additions to your xeriscaped lawn may include a fountain that recycles water, large rocks to add contrast between planting areas, and retaining walls to create dimension. You are limited only by your imagination because anything that doesn’t use water can be a part of a xeriscaped yard. Think about your yard as a large garden and be creative!
Before you plant anything in a xeriscaped yard, you need to prepare the soil. You want soil that will keep your plants cool, doesn’t allow for much evaporation, and retains extra water for those times when a drought hits. The three main types of soil are silt, sand, and clay, or a combination of the three. Xeriscaped yards do best with silt because clay causes moisture to run off without soaking in and sand allows water to drain too fast.
It can take time to get your soil ready, and in fact, it may take up to a year of dedicated use of organic materials, manures, and mulches to change the composition of the soil. Start by getting your soil type identified, which can be done by mixing soil in a jar of water and allowing it to settle into layers. You’ll be able to see how much organic material is already present and how much you need to add.
Taking the time to overhaul your lawn so that it uses less water can be an excellent way to help the environment, save money, and reduce maintenance tasks around your house. It’s a project that you can easily complete on your own just by following tips on which plants to use and how to make your irrigation as effective as possible. Your yard can be gorgeous and eco-friendly all at the same time!
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.