Create a Water-Wise Landscape

Check out our guide to creating a low-water garden.

More and more people are looking to save water in their gardens. It's no wonder: In an era of increased environmental awareness, we constantly hear about water-wise practices and how we can reduce our footprint on the Earth. Xeriscaping is a landscaping alternative that you can employ in your own backyard.

What Is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping means creating a low-water landscape. It first became popular in areas of the Southwest and Mountain West, but is spreading throughout North America. While it saves you time and money in the long term, it does require a little extra planning up front.

One of the biggest challenges for gardeners considering xeriscaping is to shift the style of plants they can use. If you've always wanted to grow a garden full of natives, a xeriscape plan will give you that opportunity.

Choosing Native Plants

Cacti and succulents

One key to xeriscaping is using native plants. They're most adapted to your climate and can handle extremes in weather patterns.

If you live in a typically dry area, such as Arizona or New Mexico, native plants like cactus, yucca, and penstemon are some of the best choices. But don't take this to mean that these are the only kinds of plants you can enjoy in a xeriscape. Whether you live in the Southwest or upper Midwest, native perennials including rattlesnake master (Eryngium), purple coneflower (Echinacea), and goldenrod (Solidago) are just the ticket to a lush, colorfully styled xeriscape.

Just because these plants are water-wise, it doesn't necessarily mean they are drought proof. In the worst dry spells even these reliable plants can suffer from water stress. That's why it's important that your xeriscape not exclude water entirely. You may need to water your plantings during severe droughts.


Be Aware of Other Plants

Keep an eye out for other plants that are well adapted to your region. There may be plenty of other plants that can take your climate's conditions. For example, in areas with warm, dry summers, many Mediterranean plants thrive.

Continued on page 2:  Hydrozoning