Xeriscaping Done Right

July 14, 2014

Xeriscaping is a form of gardening that uses drought-tolerant plants and grasses. The word stems from the Greek word xeros, which means dry. It’s intended to help people produce beautiful home or business landscaping while using less water.

If you’re thinking of xeriscaping your yard, you might first want to take a good look at the property. Find out which are the sunniest and which are the darkest parts of your site. Record where the sun is shining. Do a soil analysis to find out which nutrients are readily available in the soil, as well as the pH and the type of soil. These factors all affect which types of plants can thrive on the site. Take a look at rainfall patterns as well. How many inches or centimeters does the site get per year?

Next, classify the zones at your site. Everything can fall into three areas: oasis, transition, and arid. Oasis zones exist close to a large structure where they can benefit from rain runoff and shade. Arid zones are furthest from structures and receive the most sunlight. Transition areas act as buffers between the other zones.

Find a list of plants appropriate for your region, and then start arranging flowers by zones. At each focal point in your yard, add a few bright, eye-catching specimens that are well suited to local conditions. Group the flowers that need the most water near structures. Consider using containers for these plants so that the water doesn’t seep into the surrounding soil and produce weeds. Further away from each focal point, add plants that are more drought-tolerant and less bright. Plant the most drought-tolerant, sun-friendly plants in the arid zones where the sun will be brightest. Fill the transition areas with plants that fall in the middle of the spectrum, as far as water and sunlight needs, as well as aesthetics. Go from the tall, bright plants in the oasis zones to the shorter, less flashy plants in the transition zone to the hardier, subtle plants in the arid zone.

If possible, install some sort of water-thrifty system to nurture your plants. Drip irrigation is a nice option, which allows you to give plants just the right amount of moisture they need. Choose an appropriate mulch to help reduce erosion and suppress weeds. Organic mulch decomposes, improving the soil, but it needs to be replaced periodically. Stone or gravel mulch doesn’t need to be replaced, but it should be lined with landscape fabric in order to keep weeds from growing through the mulch.

Xeriscaping can be beautiful if you do it right. By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to producing a landscape that uses water carefully and still looks good.