Print Friendly

If you live in a high precipitation area, perhaps you’ve installed a lovely rain garden. But what’s a good landscaping choice for no rain at all?

Several regions of the U.S. are experiencing record droughts, from the shrinking Colorado River basin to megadroughts in California

While we have no choice but to wait for rainfall whenever it comes, how we respond to this crisis is up to us—for example, investments in water efficiency. What is a sound option for our lawns and yards?

Photo credit: Planet Natural
A lush garden that conserves water? Photo credit: Planet Natural

Enter xeriscaping.

Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique that conserves water. The word is a combination of xeros, the Greek word for dry, and scape, meaning scene. While dry landscaping may sound unappealing to some, xeriscapes are not just dusty rocks and thorny cacti, but a combination of elements in a landscape that are locally appropriate and water conserving. Watch this video from GreenCO to see why it’s not a garden but a system—and one that can be colorful and lush.

Xeriscapes exist in nearly all states and can reduce water used for landscaping by 60 percent.

To visualize how much water can be saved, check out this graphic presented by the city of Albuquerue, NM.

graph

 The landscaping system is based on the following 7 principles:

  • Planning and design

  • Soil improvements

  • Efficient irrigation

  • Plant zones

  • Mulches

  • Turf alternatives

  • Landscape maintenance

When designing your landscape for water-efficiency, be sure to choose plants that are defined as low water use or drought tolerant for your area. To search for native plants for your xeriscaping needs, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense database, searchable by state, to find lists for your area.

Once you have selected your natives, follow these 10 steps for a healthy xeric plant:

  •  Select the right plant for the right spot

  • Dig the right size hole

  • Amend the soil

  • Carefully remove plant from container

  • Separate matted roots

  • Place plant and backfill the hole

  • Give the plant a good soaking

  • Mulch it

  • Use efficient irrigation

  • Maintain your xeriscape

 Have you tried xeriscaping in your yard?