drought tolerant plant


Noun: A garden or landscape that needs little supplemental water.
Verb: Landscape an area using water conservation principles.
Xeriscapes do not have to be cactus or rock gardens. Often they include other native and drought tolerant plants. When you think of dry gardening, you may picture a wild, natural looking landscape. But the xeriscape water conservation principles can be applied to different styles of landscaping. You can create a more formal English, Southwestern, or Japanese garden using the same basic principles.

Tired of mowing your lawn and paying for all the water to keep it green? Explore xeriscaping and see if it is right for you.

In arid and semiarid climates, where water conservation is important, xeriscaping is a wise choice. The concept of xeriscaping was developed in the 1980s in Colorado, as a result of water shortages. Xeriscaping can also be used to reduce the amount of maintenance required for a beautiful yard or garden.

Xeriscaping incorporates seven basic principles of landscaping to achieve water conservation. The Xeriscape Principles page provides additional information on each of these topics.
  • Planning & Design
  • Soil Preparation
  • Turf Considerations
  • Plant Selection
  • Efficient Irrigation
  • Mulching
  • Maintenance

xeriscape principles

Benefits of a Xeriscape

Saves Water. Throughout North America, more than 50% of residential water use is for lawns and landscaping. Xeriscapes can reduce the water needed for landscapes by 50%-75%. This results in a costs savings as well.

Reduces Maintenance. Xeriscapes eliminate the time required to mow and fertilize a large lawn. Drip irrigation systems save time spent watering.

Improves Property Value. A good xeriscape improves property value, by creating curb appeal and reducing water costs.

Provides Wildlife Habitat. Native trees, shrubs and groundcovers in a xeriscape provide seed, fruit and nectar for local wildlife. Insects attracted by the plants in turn attract birds and reptiles.

Reduces Pollution. With smaller turf areas, pollution from gas-powered lawn mowers is reduced or eliminated. A reel mower may be sufficient for the small areas of grass included in a xeriscape.

No Fertilizers of Pesticides. Xeriscapes usually need fewer pest control measures and less fertilizer than traditional landscapes. This too saves money.

Latest Posts

Who says xeriscapes need to be at ground level?

Use your imagination to create a rooftop xeriscape.

rooftop xeriscape

“Intended to be more than an observable minimalist Zen rock garden, the courtyard was also designed to be a gathering space for family and friends to enjoy the coastal Southern California weather all year. Designed in collaboration with landscape designer Carol McElwee, an outdoor fire pit and Koi pond were added to soften the space and add an element of life.” – Annie Thornton

Guide to Killing Your Grass

Kill your lawn on purpose

If you’re just getting started with xeriscaping, the most obvious issue is probably how to get rid of all that grass. Though it’s not the easiest thing in the world, grass removal can be done using chemicals or natural methods. Read on for three different ways of going about it.

Using Chemicals

Some chemical grass killers are designed to kill only grass and will not harm surrounding flowers, fruits, vegetable or shrubs. Others, however, are not as discriminating and will kill surrounding plants.

  • No matter what brand you choose, follow the instructions on the container for preparation and use.
  • Cover up with protective clothing and gloves to prevent spray from getting on your skin.
  • Choose a day that is not windy and no sign of rain.
  • If using a grass killer that will harm all desirable plants, cover them with a plastic drop cloth.
  • Direct the spray nozzle towards the grass that you want to eliminate and pull the trigger.
  • Grass should start to wither within 24 hours.

The Natural Way

You may prefer to kill the grass in a natural way and avoid some of the concerns associated with chemicals. There are both manual and a household formula method that can be used.

The first manual way to kill grass is the weed pulling method. This method will give you quick results.

  • You will need to insert the shovel or spade around the grass and loosen the soil.
  • Follow up with a vigorous raking.
  • After you rake out the grass, you will need to use your fingertips to find any remnants of any remaining roots.

Mulching is another good way to remove the grass. Grass needs sun and water to flourish and this method will “starve“ the grass and its roots. This procedure takes time to achieve the results but is less labor intensive than hand pulling.

  • Cover the area with black plastic, cardboard or several layers of wet newspaper.
  • If using cardboard or paper, cover with straw or bark.
  • Check periodically and pull any grass that has turned brown.

The Homemade Method

Finally, we come to the homemade remedy to kill grass. This method uses common household ingredients: boiling water, vinegar and salt.

  • Choose a day where no rain has been predicted.
  • Combine boiling water, salt and vinegar in equal parts.
  • Immediately saturate the entire area while the solution is very hot.
  • Check area in about two days. If grass has not started to yellow and curl, reapply.

Whether you prefer chemical herbicides or a more natural solution, any of the above methods should achieve the desired results.

Tim Smith writes for Modernize.