With water becoming more and more precious, especially in the West, landscape strategies that incorporate drought resistant plants and low or no irrigation designs are increasing in popularity. Xeriscaping, as it’s called, replaces or reduces traditional lawns and water-loving non-native plants. Landscaping this way:
- Saves 50-75% of the water usually used for yards and gardens in the U.S. (and 50% of the water we use in this country irrigates landscape). Any necessary watering is done with soaker hoses rather than sprinklers.
- Requires less maintenance overall and reduces or eliminates the need to mow
- Encourages the use of native plants and attractive hardscape
- Reduces or eliminates the need for pesticides and fertilizers
- Emphasizes healthy soil and thick mulch
When considering xeriscaping, keep in mind that drought-tolerant plants tend to have small, thick leaves which can be glossy, gray, or fuzzy. All these things help them retain water. Don’t mix plants that love water with those that don’t. And place plants with an eye to the sun. Southern and western exposures tend to dry out more rapidly than northern or eastern.
If you don’t want to give up your lawn altogether, consider a drought-tolerant variety of grass. A few years ago we put in Enviro-turf sod, which is a hybrid of grasses native to Colorado. The roots reach down more than twelve inches deep, and the rich green turf requires less than half the water bluegrass does.
Or you can always try a lawn alternative like strawberries, clover, thyme or other low-growing perennial herbs.
For more information, here’s an article from the Colorado State University Extension.