28 Apr

The Ultimate Guide to Designing Beautiful Xeriscapes

Though the word sounds complicated, Xeriscaping is a simple and practical technique of designing water-efficient landscapes. Xeriscaping involves preparation of soil, selection of plants and design of landscape layout to minimize the use of water.

In a nutshell, an efficient xeriscape is a low-maintenance, high impact and water-wise landscape.

Useful Tips for Designing Efficient Xeriscapes

Following are some basic pointers to designing an effective xeriscape:

Improve Soil

Soil is the first thing you should analyze when planning a xeriscape. Make sure that the soil is able to retain moisture by adding organic matter to the soil. See: Tips to improve sandy soil organically

Select the right plants

Select native plants; they are low on maintenance and do not usually need frequent watering. There is a wide variety of drought-tolerant plants that can be used in xeriscapes. See: 100+ xeriscape plants.

Design effective layouts

Design your xeriscape layout to ensure minimum waste of water. You can use terraced layout, pathways, and slopes to ensure that water can easily flow through your garden and irrigate most parts of the xeriscape.

Use planting techniques

Be creative when planting. Plants with similar requirements can be grouped together to ensure efficient use of water. Plant xerophytes on slopes.

Irrigate efficiently

Irrigate in evening or early morning to reduce evaporation. Contain rainwater for irrigating your xeriscape. Replace sprinkler system with drip irrigation system.

Mulch the bare soil

Use a lot of mulch. Topping up the bare soil with two to four inches of mulch prevents water evaporation, maintains an even, cool soil temperature and prevents the germination of weed seeds. The best time to apply mulch is in late spring after the soil has warmed, but before summer’s heat begins. A late autumn mulching helps avoid the alternate freezing and thawing of soil.

Suitable Plants for Xeriscapes

Selection of plants greatly depends on your climate. I have listed about 100 drought-tolerant plants along with their culture, growth requirements and USD zones here. You can also browse the following list of popular plants that can be used in most xeriscapes.

Perennials

  • Artemisias
  • Asters
  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis
  • Delphinium
  • Echinacea
  • Gaillardia
  • Iris
  • Lavender
  • Pansy
  • Sages
  • Sedums
  • Tulips and crocuses
  • Yucca

Annuals

  • Cosmos
  • Ganzania
  • Marigold
  • Mexican Sunflower
  • Phlox
  • Portulaca
  • Vinca
  • Zinnias

Succulents 

  • Cotyledon
  • Crassula
  • Dudleya
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sedum
  • Aloe
  • Agave
  • Bulbine

Ornamental Grasses

Useful Xeriscape Resources

xeriscape

How to determine cost of your xeriscape project

Do’s and Don’ts of Xeriscaping

[Pocket Guide] Xeriscaping at Home

[Book] Creating the Prairie Xeriscape by Sara Williams

Step-by-Step Guide to Practical Xeriscaping

[Photos] 15 examples of xeriscaping with succulents

[Photos] 9 examples of xeriscaping with cacti

[Free PDF Guide] Basics of Xeriscaping

Examples of Beautiful Xeriscape Design