A technique you might try when laying out your xeriscape is hydrozoning. This means organizing plants in your landscape based on their watering needs. Can't live without petunias and other bedding plants? No worries. Group these plants closest to the house (or water source) in their own area so you can maximize your watering efforts without giving water to plants that don't need it.
As you move farther away from the water source your plantings should require less water. The fringes of your property become home to the toughest, water-wise plants you can find. (Note: While tough, these plants will need watering during the first season to get established.) By hydrozoning you manage water use in the overall design of your landscape -- so you don't end up with a hodgepodge of drought-tolerant and thirsty plants.
Adding mulch to your plantings will further aid water conservation. Mulch locks moisture in the soil and allows plants to use it more efficiently. There is a mulch for every style of landscape. From gravel to shredded bark, mulch also reduces weeds, meaning that yet another chore -- weeding -- gets crossed off the list of things to do.
Hydrozoning doesn't have to be limited to your ornamental plants. You can also plan for a xeric lawn. Choose heat-tolerant, drought tolerant varieties, such as native buffalograss.
Don't worry if you can't find drought-tolerant lawn grasses for your area. You can also keep a traditional watered lawn, especially if you have children or pets who play in the area. Just be wise about watering it: When planning your lawn, consider that narrow strips or oddly shaped areas of turf will be difficult to irrigate. Go for larger, blocky shapes to maximize your irrigation efforts.
Continued on page 3: More Benefits