How Do You Do Landscaping In Xeriscape?

Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique that reduces or eliminates the amount of water needed to maintain a yard. 

It was developed in the western United States to combat drought, and it’s been popular there since the 1970s. 

But now people all over the country are taking notice of this natural way to save money on their water bill and keep their lawn looking green even during dry spells.

7 Steps to a Xeriscape Smart Yard – Landscape Lecture Series
Key Takeaways
Xeriscaping is an environmentally-friendly landscaping technique that emphasizes the use of drought-tolerant plants and water-saving techniques.
Some key principles of xeriscaping include selecting appropriate plants, designing efficient irrigation systems, using mulch to retain moisture, and minimizing lawn areas.
Xeriscapes are low-maintenance and can reduce water usage, lower energy bills, and increase the value of a property.
Xeriscaping can be applied to any type of yard or outdoor space, regardless of size or soil quality.
While the initial cost of installing a xeriscape may be higher, the reduced water and maintenance costs can make it a more cost-effective option in the long run.

Keep Yard Size Stable

A well-designed xeriscape garden can be beautiful with a limited amount of water and maintenance. 

Avoid expanding your yard, don’t add more grass, don’t add new plants, don’t add new trees and shrubs or flower beds—it’s better to keep the size in check so you’re not tempted by adding more.

Need tips on how to install a beautiful desert landscape? Our article on installing desert landscaping provides an easy-to-follow guide to help you create a stunning and water-efficient outdoor space.

Sod More Than Seed

If you’re looking to get a lawn fast, sod is definitely the way to go. Sod is grass planted together in strips, which means less time and water are needed to establish your lawn. 

While sod can be more expensive than seed, it’s also easier to maintain and less prone to weeds or pests that would otherwise require pesticides.

However, if you want an eco-friendly landscape (or just don’t have enough money), then planting with seed may be the better choice for you. 

This method will give it time to grow into a healthy lawn without using any chemical treatments or fertilizer; however, this will take longer than using sod—upwards of 3 months for full coverage versus 1-3 weeks for new sod!

Consider A Drought-Tolerant Lawn Substitute

If you’re still not sold on a complete grass-free landscape, there are other options. Native plants can be a great choice for Xeriscape landscaping, particularly if they’re well-suited to your climate.

To keep your new garden thriving, don’t forget to water! Even if you’re trying to go without traditional watering methods like sprinklers or hoses, you’ll still need to keep an eye on the moisture content of soil and foliage whenever possible.

If you’re considering xeriscaping your yard, it’s essential to know what supplies and tools you’ll need to get started. Our guide on what you need for landscaping provides a comprehensive list of the items you’ll need, including materials for xeriscaping

Design Around Your Climate


You will be able to do this better if you understand your local climate, including:

Average rainfall and snowfall. This is especially important when considering what plants will thrive in your area. 

For example, cacti won’t grow well in a region where there is a lot of rain or snow; however, succulents adapt well to dry climates. 

If you’re interested in growing succulents in an area with plenty of precipitation (like Seattle), consider planting them under cover so that they don’t get too wet.

Designing Your Xeriscape with Your Climate in Mind

ClimateDesign Considerations
Hot and DryUse plants that are adapted to hot and arid conditions, such as cacti, succulents, and other desert plants. Choose hardscape materials that reflect heat, like sand or gravel.
HumidSeek out plants that thrive in humid conditions, such as ferns, hostas, and other shade-loving plants. Incorporate features like rain gardens or permeable paving to manage excess moisture.
CoastalSalt-resistant plants like sea oats or bayberry are excellent options for coastal climates. Windbreaks can help protect plants from coastal winds and salt spray.
Cold and DryPlants that are accustomed to cold and dry conditions, like junipers and lavender, can thrive in these environments. Incorporate windbreaks to protect your xeriscape from harsh winter winds.
Cold and WetChoose plants that can withstand harsh, wet winters, like native grasses or winterberry. Consider incorporating features like rain gardens or bioswales to manage excess moisture.

Choose Plants Wisely

When choosing the plants for your xeriscape landscaping, you need to consider how much water the plant will require. 

Native plants are those which evolved naturally in your area, so they need less water than other plants that were brought in from other climates. Also, choose low-maintenance and drought-resistant varieties as well.

Home renovation projects can be costly, which is why it’s crucial to be prepared and know what to expect. Check out our article on the costs of home renovation projects to help you determine your budget and plan your xeriscape project accordingly.

Adapt Your Planting Schedule To The Climate

Unlike the rest of the United States, where you can plant most plants at any time of year and they will grow just fine, xeriscape landscaping requires a little more finesse. 

If you live in a very hot climate, your plantings will need to be done during cooler times of the year (spring and fall). If you live in an area with cold winters and hot summers, then it would make sense to do most of your work in spring or summer.

If this is all news to you—if you had no idea there were different planting schedules for different parts of the country then let’s take a look at some examples:

  • In California: January through March (coolest months)
  • In Florida: December through February (coldest months)
  • In New York City: October through November (coldest months)

Pay Attention To Color and Texture

As you’re designing your landscape, remember to pay attention to color and texture. You can use both of these elements to create interest in your design, as well as help establish a theme or contrast.

Sand is an essential component of xeriscaping since it requires less water than traditional landscaping. Our guide on where to buy sand for landscaping can help you find the right type of sand and buy it in the right quantities for your xeriscape project.

Use Mulch And Other Ground Cover

Mulch is a great way to keep the soil cool and moist, control weeds, and add color to your yard. You can use many different types of mulch like bark chips, shredded hardwood or pine bark, wood chips and sawdust pellets. 

If you want to create a beautiful garden bed then choose a decorative hardwood such as cedar or redwood bark that won’t clog up with dirt while still keeping moisture in the soil. 

Wood mulch also looks nice but make sure it doesn’t contain any chemicals so that it doesn’t leach into your plants’ roots when watering them..

Using Mulch and Other Ground Cover in Your Xeriscape

Type of Ground CoverBenefitsConsiderations
MulchHelps to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Choose organic mulches, like wood or bark chips, to add nutrients to the soil as they break down.May need to be replenished annually. Can be expensive if purchased in large quantities.
GravelProvides a low-maintenance ground cover that allows water to penetrate the soil. Can be used to create paths or other hardscape features.May become hot in sunny locations. Can be difficult to remove once installed.
Living ground coverAdds beauty and diversity to your landscape. Living ground cover, like low-growing plants or moss, can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.May require more maintenance than other ground cover options, such as regular trimming or pruning.
Rubber mulchMade of recycled materials and helps to suppress weeds. Doesn’t decompose and can last for many years.Can be expensive. Can emit an odor when first installed.
StrawProvides a low-cost option for suppressing weeds and retaining moisture. Straw can break down over time and add nutrients to the soil.May be less attractive than other options. Can be a fire hazard in hot and dry environments.

Don’t Overdo Decorations

When it comes to decorations, moderation is key. An overabundance of decoration can make the yard look cluttered and disorganized, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve with xeriscaping. 

Your goal is to enhance your landscape through its design and color scheme rather than draw attention away from it by using too many decorative items.

Don’t be afraid to use some decorative elements in your landscape, but don’t go overboard either. Be sure that all of your decorations fit into your overall theme and design aesthetic — if they don’t have a place in either category, then leave them out! 

You may need some extra elements (like fencing) if you have pets or children who could potentially destroy any decorating efforts you make with their exuberant energy levels (I’m looking at you kids!). It’s important not only that these items blend well together aesthetically but also functionally. 

No one wants litter scattered about their property after a big party so make sure there are places for everything like trashcans close by where people will naturally gravitate towards after gathering lots of foodstuffs around them as opposed to tossing waste randomly throughout your backyard where no one wants it!

Even with a good plan, landscaping projects can be challenging to execute. Our article on finding help for landscaping provides useful tips on where to seek professional help, from landscape designers to contractors, to ensure a successful and stress-free xeriscape project.

Avoid Plants That Require A Lot Of Water

By using drought-tolerant plants, you will be able to save on your water bill and still have a beautiful landscaping project. Drought-tolerant plants do not require supplemental watering beyond what occurs naturally from rainfall or irrigation.

You can also use native plants in your Xeriscape landscape design. Native plants are those that have grown in an area for centuries without human intervention, so they are adapted to local climate conditions and other environmental factors such as soil type and light levels. 

As with all types of landscaping, it is important to consider these factors when choosing native species because some may require more water than others while others might thrive in areas where other types of vegetation would fail due to lack of moisture or nutrients (for example).

Use Rocks In Place Of Water-Heavy Gardening Features

Rocks, and their ability to hold on to water without becoming too soggy, make them a great substitute for other gardening features. You can use rocks to create a garden feature in place of something like a statue or fountain.

Use the rock as an aesthetic feature by creating flower beds in the shape of letters or numbers. This allows you to incorporate your garden into any theme you may have going on inside your home.

You can also use rocks as borders around certain areas of your garden so that it looks more organized and less messy than if there were no border at all! 

This is especially helpful if you want something big enough for people passing by outside to notice from far away but don’t want anything too bulky taking up precious space inside their yard as well!


Landscaping is a great way to add beauty to your property. But if you’re looking for ways to do it in a more sustainable way, then consider Xeriscaping. It’s an effective way of reducing your water use and making your yard more beautiful at the same time!


Landscaping can be done in a sustainable way with Xeriscape. By using plants that require less water, you’ll save money on your water bill as well as help conserve natural resources like fresh drinking water sources. Plus this landscaping method also helps keep our planet healthy by reducing pollution levels too!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on xeriscaping:

Xeriscaping: A Guide to Creating a Water-wise Landscape: This guide from the University of Georgia provides detailed instructions on how to plan and implement a xeriscape, including selecting plants and designing irrigation systems.

How to Get Started with Xeriscaping: This article from Love Your Landscape offers tips on designing a xeriscape, selecting appropriate plants, and maintaining your xeriscape once it’s installed.

Understanding Xeriscape Landscaping & Water Conservation: This resource from The Spruce provides a comprehensive overview of xeriscaping, including its history, principles, and benefits.


What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that uses drought-tolerant plants and water-saving techniques to create a low-maintenance and environmentally-friendly outdoor space.

What are the benefits of xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping reduces water usage, requires less maintenance, and can help lower energy bills. Additionally, it can increase the value of a property and attract wildlife.

What are some key principles of xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping principles include selecting appropriate plants, designing efficient irrigation systems, using mulch to retain moisture, and minimizing lawn areas.

Can I xeriscape any type of yard?

Yes, xeriscaping can be applied to any type of yard or outdoor space, regardless of size or soil quality.

Is xeriscaping more expensive than traditional landscaping?

While the initial cost of installing a xeriscape may be higher, the reduced water and maintenance costs can make it a more cost-effective option in the long run.