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Xeriscape symbol

Xeriscaping refers to landscaping in ways that do not require supplemental irrigation. It is promoted in areas that do not have easily accessible supplies of fresh water. 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. XeriscapeTM and the xeriscape logo are registered trademarks of Denver Water, the City of Denver's Water Department. They were created by the Front Range Xeriscape Task Force of Denver Department in 1978.

Some common plants used in xeriscaping are agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, sedum and thyme.

In some areas, terms such as drought-tolerant landscaping and smart scaping are used instead.



A collection of xeriscaping flowers

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 so that only limited portions of the landscape need extra water to save water . These less water-efficient plants may also be sheltered from the wind and/or sun by planting them in the shade (under trees, besides 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. The good news: 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

See also

External links


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