Xeriscape means expansive, beautiful perennial beds with zero hassle. Hardscape that’s practical and eye-catching. Extended outdoor living spaces. Most importantly, a successful xeriscape incorporates plant material that uses less of our precious resources, particularly water.

1     Planning

Think about what your landscape will look like during each season of the year. Will there be something attractive to look at even during the winter months? How will you use that backyard? Will a hardscape patio area enhance your lifestyle? Perhaps an herb garden would be attractive and useful. Planning a landscape for maximum enjoyment means thinking about these questions and creating a plan to meet your needs.

2      Soil Analysis & Improvement

Know your soil before you plant. Having four to six inches of good soil is best, but may not be practical for the entire yard in certain parts our city. For instance, for those with very thin soil, sticking with native Hill Country plants is probably best. In areas well-amended with compost or areas with naturally deeper soils, some semi-tropical plants will do well. In any case, as a rule adding more organic material is better.

3     Plant Selection

Pick a good shade tree or two. Enjoy some native plants or ones well-adapted to our area. An extensive list of options is available at www.saws.org/conservation.

4     Turfgrass

Think about why you want some grass and where it will suit you best. Ideally no more than half of your landscape should be grass. Choose a grass type that is drought-tolerant. There are many attractive varieties available for our area that can survive dry periods when necessary. Having six inches of soil is particularly important for keeping any kind of grass healthy.

5     Efficient Irrigation

A wellplanned Xeriscape will need little supplemental irrigation once it is established. If you decide to invest in an in-ground irrigation system, plan one that allows you to water in distinct plant zones. Shade areas need much less water than sunny ones. Grass and perennials should not be included in the same zones because their need is so different. Work closely with a licensed irrigator and ask many questions about how you can water only where and when needed.

6     Use of Mulches

Laying down several inches of mulch in garden beds is an important investment. Mulch keeps plant roots cool during hot weather. It holds critical moisture. And, it helps control weeds that can take over gardens.

7     Appropriate Maintenance

Check out our Seasons section to find your maintenance tasks each season.


Written by Editor