Skip to main content

What is xeriscaping and would it work for me?

Imagine landscaping purposely designed to thrive on little to no water, that’s beautiful to look at, easy to maintain, and so much more affordable than your typical grassy landscape. It’s called xeriscaping, and it could be exactly the right type of landscaping for you.

While obviously practical in acrid areas where rainfall amounts are minimal, having this unique type of garden has benefits that make it desirable and attractive, no matter which part of the country you live in. Read on for affordable xeriscaping options and ideas that will beautify your property without the maintenance or high cost.

A A xeriscape garden in bloom
Kathryn Roach / Shutterstock

Xeriscaping is a funny word, but it can be very beneficial to your yard — and your household budget — here’s why! The word xeriscaping is derived from “xeros,” which is the Greek word for “dry” and, when done properly, can actually help reduce water usage for landscaping on your property by 50% to 75%, which can have a huge impact on your water bill!

Recommended Videos

But, reducing water consumption is only one of the benefits of xeriscaping. Here are a few others:

  • It reduces the size of water-hungry lawns.
  • It employs the use of compost to improve the soil while reducing the amount of compostable refuge that ends up in your trash.
  • It focuses on plants native to your growing region, which will thrive naturally without significant help from you.
  • It eliminates the need for sprinklers and relies instead on soaker hoses or drip irrigation.
  • It saves you time spent on mowing, fertilizing, and watering lawns.

Tips for doing xeriscaping right … and affordably!

There are ways to keep costs down when implementing your xeriscape plan. Here are some ideas for inexpensive drought-tolerant landscaping:

  • Hardscapes are the hard landscape materials used in place of vegetation — pathways, walls, rock gardens, etc. To minimize costs, keep purchased hardscape to a minimum and instead use rocks and boulders found in nature, or create pathways made from gathered stones or shells.
  • Hiring a landscaper can be costly; try doing as much of the work yourself as possible. Plus, imagine the satisfaction of seeing your xeriscape vision come to life while staying on budget!
  • Make your own mulch, it’s easier than you think! Make piles of leaves, grass clippings, even twigs from the yard and turn your trusty lawnmower into a shredding, mulch-making machine. Run them over several times with the mower until mulch is at a desired consistency.
  • Select spreading plants that will continue to expand and grow as the years go on. Be careful to use native, noninvasive plants. Not sure what to use? Speak with the professionals at your neighborhood nursery or garden center.

What are the best xeriscape plants for you?

A front yard with xeriscape landscaping
Simone Hogan/Shutterstock

It’s not really a “one answer fits all” scenario. Which plants you should include depends primarily on which growing region of the country you live in. Xeriscape plants that work well in California may not work in New York at all. To ensure the success of your xeriscape landscape, you’ll want to first confirm your growing zone before making plant selections.

The USDA has developed a Hardiness Zone Map that divides North America into 11 different planting zones, with each zone being 10 degrees warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the one next to it. You can find your growing zone by speaking with a local landscape expert or online.

You’ll want a mixture of different plant types and colors, various heights, and blooming seasons, but all well-designed xeriscape gardens have plantings with similar water needs.

Here are some of our favorite xeriscape plants (always check your growing zone before selecting any plants):

  • Bougainvillea
  • Juniper
  • Purple coneflower
  • Feather reed grass
  • Lavender
  • Salvia
  • Catmint
  • Fernbush
  • Verbena
  • Various succulents

After you decide on plantings, mix up your design with natural rocks and pathways made from hand-gathered stones or shells. Once complete, the best part about xeriscape gardens is that you’ll spend more time enjoying it and less time maintaining it.

Kim Renta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kim has written for Bloomingdales, Movado, and various e-commerce wine sites. When she's not writing about wine and…
Cape Cod vs. Colonial homes: What’s the difference?
These two home styles do differ, so find out how here
Dutch Colonial with gambrel roof in Southern U.S.

Cape Cod and Colonial houses look vastly similar to one another. For the untrained eye, it might seem the only difference is their size. However, while these two home styles share a similar origin, their history over the years differs, giving each domestic architectural design a unique story.

Here, we’ll discuss the difference between Cape Cod vs. Colonial homes to help you navigate these aesthetics.
What is a Cape Cod house?

Read more
6 home pieces you should always buy at thrift stores (and 6 you shouldn’t)
Thrift store shopping tips
Multiple antique mirrors on gallery wall

Somewhere along the turbulent line of the last decade or so, thrift store shopping became cool again, and we are all for it. More and more people are rebelling against generic, cookie-cutter styles and want their homes to look more personalized, more unique, and more one-of-a-kind. At long last, your living room looking exactly like the Pottery Barn catalog doesn't necessarily make yours the epitome of style. Individualism is the more sought-after decor style now, and we couldn't love it more.
When shopping secondhand, be it at a thrift store, online auction, or garage sale, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind, and that's where we come in. By remembering these helpful tips, you can take advantage of the perks and avoid the pitfalls of secondhand shopping.

Do: Wooden furniture

Read more
What is a Tudor-style home? Your guide to this classic look
Steeply pitched roofs, half-timbering, and brick exteriors: Here's what you should know about Tudor houses
Tudor-style home

A Tudor house is a classic style many homeowners have fallen in love with. Whether you know what a Tudor-style home is or not, you’ve likely seen these storybook abodes at least once or twice. Tudor-style houses provide an air of whimsy and often feel reminiscent of French and English countryside aesthetics.

If you’re curious about what a Tudor-style home entails, we have a go-to guide covering everything you need to know about this elegant and classic house.

Read more