Xeriscaping 101 - Drought-Resistant Landscaping Ideas

This practice of Xeriscaping is the design of landscapes to minimize or remove the demand for irrigation. This means that xeriscaped landscapes only require as much water as the natural climate allows. The simplest Xeriscaping is selecting plants that need as little water as possible to survive and grow in the landscape. Although Xeriscaping is about low tide landscaping, people interested in this type of landscaping often look for other ways to leave small footprints on Earth.

Besides plant choices, there are additional strategies to reduce water use for the landscape. Water use can be reduced by up to 80% by replacing dehydrated lawns with patios or xeric plantings, and even removing a small section of lawn can help. Another option to make the most of your site’s resources is to employ grading and soil contouring to direct every drop of available rainfall to a suitable location in the landscape, such as a rain garden.

Compared to traditional lawn landscapes, xeriscapes can save up to 60% water. One of the first large-scale xeriscaping evaluations was carried out in Turkey. It was discovered that changing a typical municipal park to more natural plants in the area could reduce irrigation demand by 30–50%. It was discovered that if a city’s water usage is reduced by 30%, it can save almost $2 million each year. Watering is reduced when native plants are used because the vegetation has already evolved to survive in the environment, and it does not require irrigation or fertilization.

Xeriscaping (zer-i-skaping) is a term coined in 1981 by a group of Colorado landscape and water industry specialists that combines the Greek words xeros (dry) and landscape (landscape). Xeriscaping is sustainable landscaping that preserves water, benefits the environment, and requires less total landscape upkeep.

Ken Ball, ASLA LLA, an architect and proprietor of Mountain Spirit Studio in Denver, was a member of the Xeriscaping team that created the seven Xeriscaping principles in the 1980s:

Designing and Planning

According to Ken, a thriving landscape begins with a plan that involves water-saving methods, plants, and hardscapes suited for the weather patterns and microclimate. Xeriscaping can be applied to a brand-new landscape or a current one.

Make a scale graphic showing the important landscape features, such as impermeable surfaces, existing plants, and other permanent aspects. After determining the base plan of a current site, a conceptual design (bubble diagram) depicts the regions for grass, perennial beds, vistas, screens, slopes, and other features. A planting plan that incorporates plants into zones is completed after the project is completed.

Zoning and Selecting Plants

Plants pick plants that will thrive in the local environment and microclimate while requiring little water. Ken clarifies that this does not necessarily imply native vegetation. “To be effective, you wouldn’t have to use indigenous. Some natural plants necessitate a great deal of water, but others don’t,” He clarifies. “Pick plants depending on soil conditions, environmental elements, slope, available space, and other factors, not only if they’re native to the area.”

Limiting the Areas of Turf

Typical bluegrass makes up around 80% to 90% of landscapes, and it requires more water than many of the garden plants. According to Ken, either remove these turf by switching grass to little water plants, which offer interest and variety while conserving water, or change grass species. Bella, a hybrid Kentucky bluegrass strain, rises to a length of 4 inches. It uses 30% less water and requires half the amount of mowing as conventional grass.

Improving Soil Quality

Plants require proper soil to thrive. Rich, organic soil absorbs water more efficiently, supports deeper roots, and reduces water runoff. According to Ken, improving the soil in most parts of the country entails adding organic resources.

The motto of perfect plant, the right place, is frequently repeated in Xeriscape design. You’ll receive the best outcomes with minimum effort if you mix plants to the right growing circumstances. It’s also a great idea to enrich the soil to provide plants with the best possible foothold. The type of soil amendment you’ll require is determined by the plants you’ll be growing and the type of soil you have. Acquire a soil test to get the most out of your soil amendment budget.

Effective Irrigation

Plants are divided into areas based on their water requirements, such as grass, shrubs, and floral and vegetable beds. Instead of evaporating the leaves, drip irrigation or a soak hose are used to channel water into the soil. Ken also advises on remaining up to date on the latest improvements in irrigation technology, which is a rapidly evolving sector.

Incorporate rainwater recycling into your xeriscape plan. Rain barrels are a simple way to collect and reuse stormwater flow from buildings. Inspect your landscape during a rainstorm to see if there are any other drainage sources. Consider how you can direct and utilize the runoff. A dry creek can sometimes assist in transferring runoff from a driveway to a garden.

Using Mulches

Mulch is a low-tech solution for retaining moisture, keeping plants cool, reducing evaporation, and preventing weed growth. It also improves the appearance of the planting bed.

Mulch is a vital xeriscape concept. Mulch helps suppress weeds, decreases water loss from the soil, and provides planting areas with a polished appearance. Choose to use mulch that matches the look of your landscape. Stones are excellent mulch for succulent plants and work well in Zen rock gardens. In English garden design, shredded bark is a popular mulch option.

Maintaining the Landscape

Fortunately, Xeriscaping simplifies this final step. “I have an adage that the further you deviate from nature in any situation, the more maintenance you’ll have to do indefinitely. Mother Nature will recover the site if you don’t,” Ken expresses himself. “Xeriscaping does not just save water, but it also enhances the garden’s overall sustainability by reducing the levels of mowing, watering, and upkeep required.”

Top Xeriscape Ideas

Native desert plants such as cactus and succulents are the most common examples of Xeriscaping. However, by selecting native, drought-tolerant plants that do not require watering, xeriscaping concepts can be used in any environment.


It can’t be emphasized enough that Xeriscaping isn’t just for desert dwellers. We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge how Xeriscaping has influenced landscape patterns in the Southwest and beyond. It’s challenging to keep turfgrass or deciduous trees alive in arid areas. Watering their lawn takes a lot of effort and money for some homeowners. Others choose a drought-resistant design from the start. Cacti and succulents are among the few plants that can withstand the desert’s severe conditions. Instead of being a deterrent to good landscape design, this often leads to some of the most distinctive gardens you’ll ever see!

Front Yard

The first stage in creating a drought-resistant lawn is to get rid of turf grass as much as possible. The grass is a plant that needs care you can place in your front yard. Native ground cover plants can imitate the appearance of a lush grass lawn in more temperate locations. Prairie clover and moss are common examples. These plants work well as fillers around paving stones and other hardscape features. Utilize organic mulch or gravel to protect your yard’s topsoil if you don’t want to use ground cover.

Also See:Front Yard Landscaping Ideas


Yes, cultivating a garden that isn’t reliant on irrigation can be difficult. It’s practically impossible to keep a garden alive without additional irrigation in some circumstances. But it’s not out of the question. The plants you choose are very important because the plants which grow will determine if your xeriscape garden succeeds or not. If you’re not aware of the cottage garden trend, now is the time to get acquainted! Native plants and hardy herbs are used in cottage gardens. This is the ideal answer for everyone who wants to create a sustainable garden in a milder environment. Purchase a rain barrel for those days when the weather is very dry.

See Also: Top Garden Shed Ideas


Isn’t it evident that designing a xeriscape-friendly walkway is a no-brainer? Water can be prevented from entering the soil by pathways and other hard surfaces. This might cause erosion and deprive your garden of natural irrigation. Your walkway should be as permeable as possible. The spaced paver is the simplest method to accomplish this. If you insist on a solid path or patio slab, you’ll be relieved to learn that permeable concrete is a viable choice. Use common sense while planting around pathways and other useable spaces, which should go without saying. The cactus may have shrunk in size. However, in a year, you don’t want a spiky branch projecting over your garden walkway!

FAQs about Xeriscaping

How do I start xeriscape?

Do the task on your own: To xeriscape your yard on a budget, the first step is to design and establish your xeric garden. .You may save a lot of money by avoiding specialists.

Purchased hardscapes should be kept to a minimum – Consider yourself fortunate if you already have hardscapes in your yards, such as river rock, boulders, and flagstone. If not, think about employing less expensive design components.

Grow from seed and ask friends and neighbors for plant divisions – Grow plants from seed and gather split, mature plants from friends for the most cost-effective approach to covering your lawn with drought-tolerant plants. Seeds are always less expensive than full-grown plants, whether collected or purchased.

Mulch your lawn – If you get a shredder/mulcher, then you can manufacture mulch that is far superior to what you can purchase at nurseries or landscaping supply stores. Mulch made from shredded leaves and tiny clippings will keep weeds at bay, limit water evaporation, and promote soil health.

What are some good xeriscape plants?

Some plants best suited for Xeriscaping are Pinyon Pine, Northern Catalpa, Juniper, Barberry, Blue Mist Spirea, Lavender, Columbine, and many more.

What is the best way to xeriscape over grass?

Cover grass with a black plastic sheet to kill it from the sun’s heat. It might take 4–6 weeks to kill the grass if you lay the sheet down in the spring. You can plant without totally removing old turf once the grass has died.

Rain gardens are another type of Xeriscaping. These gardens help filter pollutants from stormwater before it is brought back into aquifers and storm drains by reducing runoff from impervious surfaces. They rely on water-retentive plant mediums to help filter pollutants from stormwater before being reintroduced into the aquifers and storm drains. These gardens are low-maintenance and require minimal watering, and they assist in preserving streams and eliminating pollutants.

Xeriscaping may take many different shapes and applications: any landscaping that doesn’t require much water. However, it is critical to consider the environment and adhere to the principles before implementing a xeriscape, as the impacts of one type of xeriscape in a xeric climate may differ from those in a mesic or hydric climate.

Read Also: Why my Grass is Turning Brown and Dying? | Variety of Grass for your lawn

How much does it cost to xeriscape a yard?

The cost of Xeriscaping a yard ranges from $16,000 to $18,000, with the average homeowner spending $17,085 to xeriscape a 1,200 to 1,300 sq. ft. yard with shrubs, groundcovers, plants, and the placement of boulders in important spots to promote water conservation.

Is Xeriscaping cheaper than grass?

Xeriscape your yard is initially more expensive because normal grass is quick and easy to install and may be done yourself. On the other hand, a xeriscaped garden is less costly to maintain over time since it requires less water.


Xeriscaping produces green spaces that require low amounts of maintenance and irrigation and promote biodiversity; however, due to group norms and lack of landscape understanding, public perception of Xeriscaping has of times been negative, as some assume that these styles of landscapes area unit ugly expanses of merely succulent and gravel. However, studies have shown that education in conservation practices and Xeriscaping’s edges can significantly improve the public’s perception of Xeriscaping.

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Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.