When you think of a drought-tolerant yard, images of a haphazard, barren space might come to mind—cacti and succulents, gravel rock, maybe a boulder dropped in as a focal point.
However, these are all misconceptions. You can absolutely conserve water beautifully! With a xeriscape, you can have bold color and lush texture. You can create dreamy curb appeal while maintaining your eco-friendly sensibilities.
Xeriscaping is not about planting less or settling for a lack of panache. It’s actually a thoughtfully designed and unique system that conserves water by reducing your grass/turf areas, creating beautiful hardscapes, installing efficient irrigation systems and planting drought-tolerant plants.
On top of reducing water use, going with native plants will also enable you to nearly eliminate the need for harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Even more ways to protect the environment!
The 7 Principles of Xeriscaping
Design and plan your plantings according to sun exposure, slope, views, walkways, and how you plan to use each space—playing, relaxing, entertaining, taking in mountain views, etc.
Amend your soil so that plants keep cool, get enough oxygen and water evaporation is minimized. Here in Colorado, clay-heavy soil can be lightened up using organic options such as compost, peat moss or gypsum.
If you want grass areas so that the kids or pets can play, that’s fine! You can use artificial turf or less water-reliant options like buffalo grass. Also, take a look at where turf can be replaced with walkways, a patio for lounging and of course, gorgeous xeriscape plants.
Group plants according to water needs and create zones for each. Ideally, 10% of your landscape should be high water use, 30% moderate, and 60% (or more) low.
Use a properly designed and efficient irrigation system. Drip irrigation uses 30-50% less water, reduces runoff and works great for ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers.
Add mulch to reduce surface evaporation and improve overall water retention. It can also help with regulating the soil temperature, preventing weeds, adding more organic matter to clay soil, as well as slowing erosion.
While xeriscaping requires less maintenance, maximizing water savings may require you to adjust your irrigation, as well as prune, weed and fertilize from time to time.
Planting Options for Xeriscaping
Here are just a few of the hundreds of options that can help you create stunning, eco-friendly outdoor spaces. You're also welcome to download a PDF version of this list to help get you started.
Winecups / Poppy Mallow
Gro-Low Fragrant Sumac
Blue Avena Grass
Feather Reed Grass
PLANTS & SHRUBS
Mojave or Fringed Sage
Santa Fe Aster
The Value of Curb Appeal
Once you’ve completed your xeriscape, you can not only take pride in your beautiful outdoor space but enjoy potential savings on your water bill each month.
And if you ever decide to sell your home, just know that 49% of buyers found landscaping for energy conversation to be a very or somewhat important feature* during their home search. Of course, if you sell with a PorchLight agent, they’ll be sure to showcase your fabulous, earth-friendly oasis.
*Source: National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers