Low-Water Landscaping: How to Achieve a Beautiful Landscape While Conserving Water

by Owner on May 27, 2010

The Denver Water Department employees were really onto something big when they coined the term xeriscaping some 30 years ago. Xeriscaping, also known as low-water landscaping, utilizes low-water landscaping techniques to create beautiful landscapes and gardens without wasting huge amounts of water. The techniques for low-water landscaping are simple and require less maintenance than conventional landscapes and gardens. If you haven’t planted your garden yet this year or tended to your landscaping needs, then consider implementing some of the following xeriscaping techniques. You’ll save water and money and help the environment in a big way.

Limit Turf

The biggest step you can take to limit watering your grass is to limit the amount of turf on your property. Grass has a lot of benefits, so don’t get rid of it all. Instead, keep a small area where pets and children can play or where you can relax. Use mulch and groundcovers in place of the turf. Limiting your turf will directly cut down on the time you spend mowing and maintaining your lawn and it will significantly lower your summertime water bill.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation, image courtesy of Springhilllawnandlandscape.com

Drip irrigation systems are the most efficient way to water a landscape or garden. Conventional sprinkler systems or in-ground systems are inefficient as they allow water runoff and over-deliver water, causing unnecessary evaporation instead of balanced saturation levels. A drip irrigation system consists of a hose with tiny holes along it. They are sold at most local nurseries or garden shops. This type of watering system is efficient, as it allows water to trickle slowly into the soil over long periods.

The Soil

The goal in a xeriscaped garden is that the soil be so highly conditioned that it naturally retains moisture. Have your soil tested by a local landscaper to learn what your soil needs to become properly conditioned. Alternatively, add some compost, humus, manure and other organic fertilizers to your soil. Follow the directions located on the bags and they will lead you to conditioned soil.


The best way to reduce erosion and retain soil moisture is to place mulch over as much soil as possible. There is a wide selection of mulches that complement a xeriscaped garden and landscape. Shredded leaves, grass clippings or wood chips are the most cost-effective and are often available through local municipalities for free. Other types of mulch include bark, pine needles, pebbles or crushed stone. Curb appeal tip: Select mulch that complements the color of your home’s exterior.

Native Plants

The core of xeriscaping is to plant only native and drought-tolerant plants. Doing so will significantly reduce the need for watering. Search the Web to learn what plants are native to your region. Additionally, your local nursery or gardener will be able to educate you on which native plants are ideal for your area.

Planting Tips:

  • Plants with similar water needs should be grouped together.
  • Water-dependent plants should be placed in shaded areas to limit evaporation.

Watering Tips:

Your xeriscaped garden and landscape still requires watering.

  • Water the lawn or garden in early morning. Doing so will minimize evaporation before it gets too hot.
  • Avoid watering on windy days.
  • Check the weather forecast for rain and plan your watering schedule accordingly.

While xeriscaping is practiced more in the southwest, homeowners in all climates throughout the entire US have had success with xeriscaping.

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Marcy Tate, a home improvement blogger at Networx. She works with landscapers learning about ways to teach homeowners about low-water landscaping techniques.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray May 27, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Wow, this article is an incredible resource. This is a style of landscaping that’s going to be more and more common as things get drier. I’ll definitely make sure to bookmark this and pass it on. Aluminum fence would look beautiful around a yard like this, particularly by some well placed bushes.


Marcy Tate May 29, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Thanks Ray for your kind comment. It’s really amazing how simple it is to create a gorgeous landscape without using so much water. I always think about how great it would be for the environment if more people knew how simple xeriscaping is and would try it.


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