Conserving Water Through Xeriscaping

You love your lawn, but hate your water bill. It’s time to reconcile the two. Enter xeriscaping: a new method of landscaping using a combination of drought-resistant plants as well as plants that need little water to thrive.

What Exactly is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping a gardening and landscaping method that is intended to utilize plants that have a small need for water and irrigation in order to survive to reduce water usage. It is mostly used in areas of the country that have limited or no access to a dependable source of fresh water, which can make water more expensive. The term comes from a combination of the words “xeros”, which is Greek for dry, and “landscaping”.

Why Should I Xeriscape?

The primary advantages of xeriscaping are due to reduced water usage. By lowering your water consumption, conserve water while making it more available to your community. You’ll save money and time by not having to spend very long watering in general. Your xeriscape plants will also be able to survive through harsher weather than your neighbor’s ornamentals. This brings us to a common misconception about xeriscaping: that you have to sacrifice pretty plants for scrubby ones. In reality, xeriscape plants can offer an equally aesthetically satisfying look to your yard as ornamentals.

How Do I Xeriscape?

It’s easier than you’d think. Mostly, you need to think about what plants are native to your local area. You can do some research on your own or ask at a local nursery. They can recommend local plants that will thrive in all parts of your lawn. There isn’t a cut and dry one-size-fits-all plant solution for every climate in the country, so it’s important to do research based on your region. Keep in mind that xeriscaping must start from the soil in order to set your lawn up for success. Check out the type of soil your lawn has. Soil that is sandy will allow moisture to slip through too easily, while clay-like soil will retain moisture too much. The best type of soil for xeriscaped lawns have higher silt amounts than anything else.

How Often Should I Water?

If can’t tell, water is the key to xeriscaping. While most xeriscape plants won’t need much, you’ll want to water them more often right after you plant them in order to help them establish a deep root system. If you don’t water them much directly after planting, their roots will grow shallow and weak. Their roots can shrivel and reach up to the top of the soil looking for water. Keep this in mind, as sometimes natural rainwater needs to be supplemented with some water from your hose or sprinkler to keep the plants going. It’s a misconception that xeriscape lawns do not need any additional watering outside of the naturally-occurring rainstorm. Especially in drought conditions, you still will need to water your lawn a bit. Overall, though, not as much water is needed as non-xeriscaped lawns. A helpful tip: utilize mulch to help keep water from evaporating before the plants have a chance to drink it up!

Emily Kaltman writes for The Grass Outlet in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing about nature and wishes the Texas drought would end soon.