Xeriscaping is a term used to describe gardens that use local, native plants and rocks and, as such, use little or no water other than what falls naturally in the form of rain and snow. Xeriscaping is practiced in many arid or semi-arid places where water is in short supply.
The term xeriscaping was coined by the Denver Water Department in 1981 to help people grasp concepts of landscaping designed to conserve water. The word xeriscape is a combination of the Greek word for dry, xeros, and the word "landscape." Xeriscaping has become popular in many parks and public spaces in Colorado, and is commonly practiced by families in many Colorado locations.
Xeriscape designs start with native, drought-tolerant plants and flowers. Grasses that require little water, such as switchgrasses and western wheatgrass, often form a centerpiece around which rocks and cacti or succulents can grow. Some xeriscape gardens use a rock with grass as auxiliary material.
Cacti and other low-water flowers can add color to xeriscaped gardens. In many parts of the state, asters are common and can work nicely in a natural garden. A number of native roses and chromosa work very well for reds and other colors in Colorado based xeriscaped gardens.
Many flower gardens require copious amounts of water. Depending on what you are trying to grow, you might need to add 2 to 4 inches of water per week, or in some cases more. Over a season, you might use 70 or more inches of water in your ornamental gardens. By switching to xeriscaping, you can rely on naturally falling rain.
How to Get Started
Look around the particular part of the state in which you live. Look at the plants that exist in the wild, and use similar plants in designing your garden. Work by planting taller plants in the back, with shorter plants in the front. If you need specific help, Denver Water's organization Colorado WaterWise can often offer help on specific design issues.