Xeriscape: Landscaping With Low-Water Plants

xeriscape garden plants

Xeriscaping, aka "dry gardening," means using low-water plants, it doesn't mean giving up a lush landscape.

Xeriscaping is a growing trend among gardeners, landscapers and homeowners that want to enjoy the look of nature but also want to preserve nature so that they can enjoy it. There are many environmental benefits that come from this type of landscape — most importantly water conservation. Of course, this approach to gardening is more than just water conservation, it’s also a way to create an amazing, eco-friendly landscape that will naturally thrive in it’s environment with very little maintenance.

Let’s take a deeper look at xeriscaping, low water plants, and how the environmental benefits of this type of gardening.

What is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping means creating a landscape using low water-use or drought-tolerant plants that are adapted to grow in conditions that don’t require any supplemental irrigation. These “low-water plants” either have the ability to store water in their leaves, or have narrow leaves that reduce the loss of water. Cacti, probably the most familiar low-water plant, is a perfect example of what you might find in a xeriscaped landscape. But, cacti are only the type of the ice plant — there are many, many plants that are well-suited for this type of garden.

What Types of Plants Are Best for a Xeriscape Environment?

Plants with hairy, succulent, or narrow leaves generally tend to be low water-use and so are ideals for xeriscaping. Some evergreens fall into this category, too, such as junipers and hemlocks.

If you live in a drought-prone area, you will find that native plants have already adapted to the low-moisture conditions so won’t need any extra irrigation.

Here are some of the types of low-water plants gardeners use in xeriscape gardens.

Consider your location when you look at this list, and see if there are any species that are native to your region. Also check to be sure that none of these plants are listed as “invasive plants” for your location.

  • Hen-and-chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
  • Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)
  • Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
  • Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) (The other Echinacea species are also low water-use)
  • Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)
  • Aromatic sumac (Rhus aromatica)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)
  • Dianthus
  • Tall blasing star (Liatris aspera)
  • Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius) (Most species of aster are low water-use)
  • Beach plum (Prunus serotina)
  • Aloe (Aloe vera)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Environmental Benefits of a Xeriscape Landscape

Native plants are usually the best choice for creating a xeriscape landscape. Gardening with native plants is better for the environment because they naturally fit into the local ecosystem and support the habitat for other native plants and animal species. In addition, there is less chance of introducing a potentially invasive species when you don’t have to import your plants.

Conserving water is a another significant environmental benefit of xeriscaping. Watering lawns and gardens can use a tremendous amount of water. Creating a landscape of low-water plants eases the burden of trying to hydrate plant species that aren’t intended to thrive in a low-water environment.

Keeping a Xeriscape Garden Chemical Free

Another environmental benefit of landscaping your home with a xeriscaping plan is that it will naturally repel bugs and weeds. This means that you will rarely, if ever, need to to consider using pesticides or other chemicals. That’s a plus for the eco-system and the health of your family. Here’s how xeriscaping makes it easier to avoid chemicals in the garden:

  • Drought-resistant plants, especially native ones, are not as prone to pests and diseases as other species. This cuts down on the need to use of pesticides or fungicides.
  • Many weeds require moist soil. So, when you have a low-water garden, the drier soil won’t be as attractive to those pesky weeds, cutting back on any temptation to use chemical weed-killers and gas-powered mowers and trimmers.

Comments

  1. Michelle Wedake says:

    This year will be my first experience with gardening and landscaping. I live in Tucson, Az and I desire to create a lush, but drought resistant, hummingbird oasis. We bought the house a few years ago, and have done nothing yet to its long neglected front yard. My first plan is to grow a vegetable garden under the west facing patio. The next step is tearing out the old plastic ground covering. The last step, the one I cant wait to get to, is filling out the yard with Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) some baby prickly pears ( they started growing from the paddles that fell from the last frost) and some other plants that will work well with these. I dont even know how far to space things! I have seen trees planted too close to houses that cracked the foundation, or plants stretching out trying to get some sun, and shrubs crowding over walkways that make you walk around them to the door.

    Open to suggestions or recommended books.

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