How to do Xeriscape Landscaping


The word xeriscape is derived from the Greek word xeros, which means "dry". In landscaping, the term xeriscape means landscaping with native and drought-tolerant plants in order to save water. Also, xeriscaping involves improving the soil so it holds more water and adding mulches and drip irrigation to give water to the plants that need watering, rather than the whole landscape at the same time. Xeriscaping is also used to decrease the amount turf grass in the landscape that uses a lot of water to stay green and healthy and usually needs several applications of fertilizer or herbicide per year.

Step 1

Draw a plan for your xeriscape landscape from an aerial perspective. Draw to scale the permanent fixtures in the garden such as statues or sheds. Then, draw in the size of the plants that you would like to have and where they should be located. For example, taller plants are usually located in the back of the garden and shorter plants on the border or in the front. Draw flower beds with flowing curved lines rather than sharp angles.

Step 2

Improve the soil where you plan on adding your xeriscaped garden by adding a 2-inch layer of compost mixed with granulated organic fertilizer at the recommended rate on the fertilizer package. Gently work this mixture into the top 6 inches of soil with your shovel and rake smooth. This helps the soil hold moisture, and the fertilizer slowly degrades, improving the overall health of the soil by feeding beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil.

Step 3

Choose and buy native drought-tolerant plants for your area by looking on line or finding a book about the subject. Notice the eventual size of the plants and whether they suit the original xeriscaping plan that you drew. Making note of the eventual size of the plant is important because the biggest mistake that you can make when planting a xeriscape garden is planting slow growing drought tolerant plants too closely together. When they mature, the garden will look weedy and overrun.

Step 4

Place drip irrigation throughout the garden with water-emitting dribblers or drip tape placed directly at the roots of the plants. Remember that most native plants prefer an occasional deep soaking rather than many small applications of water. Deep soaking encourages deep root growth so the plants can survive dry periods.

Step 5

Add mulch over the entire xeriscape area covering the drip irrigation system as well as the root base of all plants. Mulch conserves water and prevents the ground from quickly drying out after irrigating. Also, mulch gives the garden a pleasing and well-tended appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Native plants
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Compost
  • Granulate organic fertilizer
  • Source of water
  • Drip irrigation parts and supplies
  • Mulch


  • Earth Easy: The 7 Principles of Xeriscaping
  • CSU: How to Xeriscape
  • Landscape Design Site: Xeriscape Water Wise Landscaping
Keywords: xeriscape, zeroscape, landscaping with native plants

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.