Xeriscaping is the process of landscaping with native plants to conserve water and create a sustainable environment on your property. Although Xeriscaping is usually linked to desert landscaping, it can be used in any environment, even one such as the kind found in Northeastern Arkansas, which is primarily a Mississippi delta type of geology. Landscaping with native regional plants will require less work than with introduced plants, because native plants are adapted to the alluvial soil of this region.
Conduct a soil test three to six months before planting. This will determine the structure of your soil, the nutrient content and pH of soil. The University of Arkansas maintains a soil-testing laboratory in conjunction with its community- and continuing-education program. You can follow the first link listed under the Resources section for information on how to take a core sample of your soil for testing and how to send your sample in to the lab. A soil test can help you determine if farming practices have stripped away any nutrients, such as phosphorous or added chemicals in the process of spraying for pests.
Purchase soil amendments based on the test conducted in Step 1. Typically the alluvial soil of Northeastern Arkansas is rich in organic materials and well-drained. This is why this portion of the state is used for growing rice, soybeans and cotton. In general, you will want to add compost, manure or fertilizer to boost the nutrients in your soil.
Break up your soil with a rototiller to a depth of 6 inches by passing the machine over the land in sections. Then spread your soil amendments over the soil. Mix the amendments into the soil by passing the rototiller over them again.
Consult the University of Arkansas Extension Service for a list of plants native to Northeastern Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Extension Service maintains a list of native plants on its website. You can consult their website by following the second link in the Resources section, or contact your county extension agent for advice on which plants to choose.
Purchase your landscaping plants from a local nursery. Locally owned nurseries often will have a wider selection of plants native to your area than a big-box nursery chain.
Place your plants in locations that take advantage of natural runoff or low depressions in your landscape where water naturally collects to reduce the amount of watering you must undertake yourself. Group plants with similar watering and light needs together.
Dig your planting holes for each plant slightly larger but no deeper than the plant's root ball. Space each plant according to planting directions given to you at the plant's nursery. Place each plant root ball in its planting hole and cover with dirt.
Water each plant so that the ground remains as damp as a wrung out sponge for the first 14 days to help the plant's roots become established. Then taper off watering. Native plants are adapted to live on the amount of water that nature supplies in your area, so you should only have to water again in times of drought.