Xeriscape (sometimes misspelled xeroscape) landscaping is a trademarked name for a water-conserving landscape.
When many people think of Xeriscape landscaping, they think of cactus and rock gardens. But this is a misconception. Xeriscaping is a set of seven common sense principles that lead to saving water:
- Planning and design, which includes grouping plants with similar water requirements, increasing shade areas to decrease the water needs of plants, and preserving areas of native vegetation.
- Analyzing soil to determine if soil improvement is needed for better water absorption and improved water-holding capacity.
- Creating practical turf areas. Turf grasses can be used as a planned element in the landscape; however, you want to avoid impractical turf use, such as long, narrow areas.
- Selecting appropriate plants to keep the landscape more in tune with the natural environment. You can use both native and exotic plants in Xeriscape landscaping.
- Watering efficiently. Efficient irrigation can save 30 to 50 percent on a water bill. This step includes using rain gauges and a rain shut-off device to avoid over-watering and irrigating in early morning hours when less water evaporates. Watering intelligently helps your plants become stronger, use the moisture in the soil better, and consequently better withstand drought, insects, and disease. For example, instead of watering frequently and quickly, water occasionally and deeply.
- Using mulches in flower and shrub beds to prevent water loss from the soil through evaporation and to increase water penetration during irrigation.
- Using appropriate maintenance. Adjustments to pruning, weeding, fertilization, pest control, and the irrigation system can all conserve water.
Learn more with the Xeriscape Handbook: A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening.