Xeriscaping—a more sustainable gardening solution

By Iztel Perez
Iztel Perez
Iztel Perez
June 28, 2021 Updated: June 28, 2021

To have and maintain a lush green yard and garden there are many things to consider, fertilizer, herbicides, pests, and most importantly, water. Watering your plants and yard can be the single most expensive part of having a yard or garden. But in some places watering can be the hardest one to maintain.

In many areas of the country, there are water restrictions, and during times of drought, they can be even more restrictive. This can impact your options when trying to have a traditional garden.

And, if you are in California, there are watering bans in various counties to preserve water, so what can you do to have both an attractive yard you want to spend time in and also conserve water?

Xeriscaping is a popular option for places that are dry or have restrictions like California, Arizona, and other places around the country.

Xeriscaping is the idea of using the native plants from your area to create and maintain your home’s landscape. Instead of trying to keep and maintain non-native species of plants and grasses that would require unusually large amounts of water to keep healthy, in xeriscaping you use the native plants and vegetation of your area to cultivate your outdoor spaces. This does mean you wont have the “normal” yard full of green grass, but with a bit of planning, and time you can have just as beautiful a yard, just not the green grass one. There are many advantages to xeriscaping, from reduced water consumption and costs related to watering your yard, to increased property values, and a reduction in certain pests.

Getting started

To begin your xeriscaping project, you have to know what hardiness zone you live in. This will tell you the kinds of plants you can use, to add to the native species that are already around you, and what watering requirements for those plants might be. The planning stage of your project is usually the most time consuming, but that time you invest now will save you headaches down the road.

Your next consideration will be how to water your planned new garden project. For most xeriscaping, drip irrigation is used because sprinklers and hose watering waste more water thru evaporation and other issues. Drip irrigation allows the water to go deep into the ground, improving your plants root system and minimizing water usage.

Next is choosing drought-friendly plants. There are many plants that you can use like cacti and flowers that are heartier and require less water to stay healthy.

If you lack rainfall and are overwhelmed by the heat, xeriscaping is an easy-to-care-for landscape. And while landscaping may sound difficult, it can be easy and budget-friendly. By utilizing local, low-maintenance plants and gravel, xeriscaping requires little care and watering afterwards. Making life simple as well as saving money and water for any type of gardener.

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Using stones and low-maintenance plants are simple items you can use to start xeriscaping. (Iztel Perez)

One of the most important keys to xeriscape is that you use the area around you. Using flowers or plants native to your area that require less water can be the center of your project. Build around it and see if you like what you see.

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You can use stones and rock to create pathways in your garden. (Iztel Perez)

You have plenty of options when planning and building your xeriscape project, from gravel and mulch to “fill” in around your native plants and drought resistant plants you chose for your garden, to using slate and other slab style larger rocks to make pathways or frame certain areas for a more aesthetic look. There are also components like fire pits, outdoor ovens, and furniture you can add to add style to your new outdoor oasis.

If you are not a fan of the plainness of rocks, gravel, and boulders then an option can be mulch. Mulch is an product that comes in various colors and sizes to suit your particular needs. Mulch can help with weeds and certain pests depending on what type of much you use, cedar mulch naturally repels certain pests and because its also natural as it breaks down can also provide nutrients to the plants in your xeriscape project.

While there are many benefits to mulch, mulch does break down over time. This means that you will have to replenish the mulch eventually. While it does mean that it will be a while, maybe even a couple of years, it is something to keep an eye on. If mulch is the option you want, then you will need more leafy plants in your landscape. If you will be using rocks and gravel then plants that prefer sun and less watering will do better.

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There are many options and plants you can use to add color to your landscape. (Iztel Perez)

Once you have set up the idea and brainstormed what you have liked for your landscape there are many things you can do next. If you only have a small yard/landscape then using gravel and succulents or if you like bigger plants, there are cacti or drought resistant shrubbery you can choose as options. With this, you can not only save water, but create a simple and modern look.

Because your imagination is the only real limit when you are creating a garden via xeriscaping, many gardeners create diamond shapes and other patterns and use colored gravel and various plants to fill and create intricate designs to bring uniqueness to their homes.

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Xeriscape is an alternative way to create a wonderful yard that requires little watering, and maintenance. (Iztel Perez)

Xeriscaping is just one tool gardeners can use to improve the look of their yards and gardens, reduce the water needed to keep their yards, but still have something that is aesthetic and adds to the beauty of your home. It takes planning, some time and energy, and has some costs in the beginning, but in the long run, it reduces your overall costs, adds to the value of a home, and gives you peace of mind that you are being an ecologically mindful neighbor.

Iztel Perez
Iztel Perez