Xeriscaped garden. © CSA.

Xeriscaping is a systematic method of promoting water conservation in landscaped areas. Xeriscaping is mostly used in arid regions, but its principles can be used in any region to help conserve water. The key principles of xeriscaping are:


  • Planning and design

    Provides direction and guidance, mapping your water and energy conservation strategies, both of which will be dependent upon your regional climate and microclimate.

  • Selecting and zoning plants appropriately

    Bases your plant selections and locations on those that will flourish in your regional climate and microclimate.

  • Limiting turf areas

    Reduces the use of bluegrass turf, which usually requires a lot of supplemental watering.

  • Improving the soil

    Enables soil to better absorb water and to encourage deeper roots.

  • Irrigating efficiently

    Encourages using the irrigation method that waters plants in each area most efficiently.

  • Using mulches

    Keeps plant roots cool, minimizes evaporation, prevents soil from crusting, and reduces weed growth.

  • Maintaining the landscape

    Keeps plants healthy through weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and controlling pests.

    The word Xeriscaping was coined by combining xeros (Greek for "dry") with landscape. Plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate are emphasized, and care is taken to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off. Some common plants used in xeriscaping are agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, sedum and thyme.



    Implementation of xeriscaping includes:


  • Appropriate choice and arrangement of a plant (or plants) - where possible, plants that are native to the area or to similar climates, as well as other plants that tolerate or avoid water stress (xerophytes, halophytes, summer-dormant bulbs, very deeply rooted plants) as ornamentals.

  • Hydrozoning, grouping plants with similar watering requirements together is quite neccesary. Plants that require more water (for example, vegetables, fruits, and certain flowers) are grouped together. These less water-efficient plants may also be sheltered from the wind and/or sun by planting them in the shade (under trees, beside a house etc.) to decrease the amount of water they need.

  • Minimal turf areas, using drought-tolerant turf-grass species where turf is needed at all (children's play areas). The landscape can be filled in with borders and islands of more water-efficient ornamental plants.

  • Efficient application of water - drip irrigation where possible. Overhead irrigation (where needed) is applied in the morning or evening, when it is less likely to be blown away by wind or lost by evaporation. Drought-tolerant plants get no more water than they need to look good, and of course water is not allowed to splash onto concrete walkways or other areas where it is not needed.

  • Conservation of water in the soil. Soil with improved structure retains water better, and mulch cools the soil surface and hinders evaporation.



  • Lower water bills

  • More water available for other uses and other people (such as showers, sinks, hoses)

  • Less time and work needed for maintenance, making your day simple and relieving stress

  • Little or no lawn mowing (which saves gas)

  • 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

  • Increased habitat for native bees, butterflies, and other fauna



  • 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. However, some states, such as Florida, include law, as it pertains to Homeowner's Associations, that make it unlawful to include a clause prohibiting "property owner from implementing Xeriscape or Florida-friendly landscape, as defined in s. 373.185(1), on his or her land." in Homeowner Association documents, (Ref: 720.3075.4 Prohibited clauses in association documents)

  • 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 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