From Academic Kids

Xeriscaping, a word coined by combining xeros (Greek for "dry") with landscaping, is a water-conservative approach to landscaping. Plants whose cultural requirements are appropriate to the local climate are emphasized, and care is taken to avoid wasting water to evaporation and run-off. Xeriscape is a trademark created by the Denver Water Board[1] (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=xeriscape).

Xeriscaping is not the same as hardscaping (in which the landscape consists mostly of concrete, stones or gravel, with perhaps a cactus or two thrown in), but can look quite lush and colorful.



Implementation of xeriscaping includes:

  • appropriate choice and arrangement of plants - Where possible, use plants that are native to your area or to similar climates, as well as other plants that tolerate or avoid water stress (xerophytes, halophytes, spring-flowering bulbs, very deeply rooted plants) as ornamentals. Practice hydrozoning, grouping plants with similar watering requirements together. Separate plants that require more water (for example, vegetables, fruits, flowers you just can't live without) from the rest so that only limited portions of the landscape need extra water. These less water-efficient plants may also be sheltered from the wind and/or sun to decrease the amount of water they need.
  • minimize turf areas - Use drought-tolerant turf grass species where turf is needed at all (children's play areas), and keep the size of the turf area as small as possible. Fill in the landscape with borders and islands of more water-efficient ornamental plants.
  • efficient application of water - Use drip irrigation where possible; where overhead irrigation is needed, apply water in the morning or evening, when it is less likely to be blown away by wind or lost by evaporation. Do not give drought-tolerant plants more water than they need to look good, and of course do not allow water to splash onto concrete walkways or other areas where it isn't needed.
  • conservation of water in the soil - Improve the soil structure so that it retains water better and apply mulch to cool the soil surface and hinder evaporation.


  • lower water bills
  • more water available for other uses and other people
  • less time and work needed for maintenance
  • can be lazy during the hot dry months
  • little or no lawn mowing
  • xeriscape plants along with proper bed design tends to take full advantage of rainfall
  • when water restrictions are implemented, xeriscape plants will tend to survive, while more traditional plants may not


  • requires planning, especially if color is desired throughout the season, as most perennials do not bloom continuously
  • may require more start-up work to prepare beds for planting than simply laying sod
  • some homeowners' associations may object to non-traditional plants
  • requires that people moving from water-abundant to water-scarce areas change their mindset as to what types of plants they are able to practically and economically maintain
  • may have to substitute one type of plant for another
  • xeriscape beds do require periodic maintenance which is more involved than simply mowing and edging, especially to maintain color. Weeds and trash may also be more of a problem than in a traditional lawn.
  • more complicated irrigation systems may be required
  • xeriscape plants can waste water if irrigation is not properly managed

See also

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