Xeriscape Principles

If you are thinking about creating your own xeriscapes, attention to these basic principles will help you create the yard and gardens that are right for you.

Even if you decide to hire a professional landscape company to create your xeriscape, the overview provided here will help you understand the choices to be made and give you a feel for the effort involved.

This video from Colorado Springs Utilities describes the basic principles of Xeriscaping.

xeriscape grasses

DESIGN and planning of your xeriscape is the first step. It is a good idea to map the area you intend to plant. There are a lot of factors to consider, including climate, shade, sloping land, soil types, planned irrigation systems, as well as any local regulations that may apply.

SOIL for your xeriscape should be prepared with organic material to allow water to be retained and to drain, as required by the plants. The soil also needs to be graded so water is directed to where it can be used by the plants rather than being lost as run-off.

TURF considerations are important, because traditional grass lawns use a lot of water and require regular maintenance. Some families may want to keep enough lawn for children and pets to play. The goal of xeriscaping is to minimize areas of turf in favor of alternatives like native ground covers, decorative paving, and drought tolerant plants.

PLANTS are selected based on their water needs and suitability to the climate. Choosing flowers, shrubs and trees with similar water needs, allows them to be grouped together and watered more efficiently. Native plants and drought tolerant plants are a good choice for xeriscapes.

IRRIGATION systems provide water efficiently to your xeriscape when nature doesn’t. A properly designed system will deliver the right amount of water at the right time. Some xeriscape gardens incorporate collected rainwater or greywater to irrigate.

MULCH is important to the xeriscape garden. It reduces evaporation from the soil surface, maintains consistent soil temperatures and helps prevent weed growth. As organic mulch breaks down, it also improves the soil.

MAINTENANCE for a newly planted xeriscape is comparable to a traditional landscape. It will need watering, pruning, pest control and fertilizing. Over time as the plants become established, less time will be spent on maintenance.