According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Xeriscaping is a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques. Many gardeners have chosen to utilize this practice in more temperate regions as well, since drought tolerant plants need less maintenance and can be left on their own for longer periods of time.
All plants need regular watering while first being established. But after a good root system has developed, plants suitable for xeriscaping can go for sustained periods without water and here’s why….
Many prairie and meadow plants have very deep roots that can access moisture deep within the earth. These types of roots evolved from centuries of wind-whipped, sun scorching summers on the high plains. They also aided in keeping the plant viable underground as fires scorched the open prairies. Cone Flowers, Coreopsis, Rudbeckia, Asters and many ornamental grasses such as Blue Sedge, Blue Stem, and Zebra Grasses remain colorful and healthy during extreme summer conditions.
Succulents are another great option for xeriscaping. These plants are related to cactus and store water within their leaves, giving them their ‘succulent’ or ‘juicy’ appearance! The most popular succulents are ornamental sedums. Many of which can be tucked into crevices, rock gardens, or planted in mass as a drought tolerant groundcover.
Lawn substitutes need less water than turf and are options for low traffic areas. There are a host of drought tolerant stepable groundcovers that are perfect for in between pavers, slopes, or hard to reach areas of the landscape. Blue Moneywort, certain Wormwoods, Thyme, and Blue Star Creeper are good examples that will add something unique to your landscape and require minimal maintenance!
Even low-growing, spreading shrubs like Blue Rug Juniper and Cotoneaster act as drought tolerant groundcovers in the landscape. And while they cannot survive foot traffic, they will be spill wonderfully over a retaining wall or hillside and need little attention after establishment.
There is little doubt as to why xeriscaping is increasing in popularity. It’s a win-win-win scenario, planting an eco-friendly landscape that will ultimately save you time and labor!