How do you Xeriscape your yard?

How do you Xeriscape your yard?

Xeriscape, phonetically pronounced zeer-a-scape, is a form of landscaping that uses plants and materials that require minimal water usage. It is becoming more popular in arid regions and areas of prolonged drought. 
Xeriscaping typically involves using native plants that are adapted to the region's climate and soil conditions, reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals, while still creating a beautiful, functional outdoor space. 
Traditional landscapes are challenging and costly to maintain, especially in a drought. When water restrictions or reductions are in place, those traditional landscapes could suffer. Using xeriscaping in your yard helps to conserve water. 
How do I get started?
The cost of xeriscaping can vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the area, the types of plants and materials used, and the complexity of the design. It does, however, lead to long-term cost savings by reducing water usage and maintenance needs.
Some local governments and water utilities offer rebates or incentives for xeriscaping projects, which can help offset some of the initial costs. With careful planning and budgeting, it can be an affordable and sustainable landscaping option in the long run.

1.    Assess your yard: Look at your yard and determine its natural features, such as the slope, soil type, and amount of sun and shade. This will help you choose plants that are appropriate for your yard's conditions.
2.    Plan your design: Sketch out a rough plan of your yard, including any existing features such as trees, rocks, and pathways. Decide on areas for your lawn, plants, and hardscaping elements such as gravel, rocks, or pavers.
3.    Choose plants: Choose plants that are native to your area, as they will be better adapted to the local climate and require less water and maintenance. Consider the color, size, and texture of the plants and how they will look when they are fully grown.
What plants are good to use?
Xeriscaping uses plants that are well-adapted to dry and arid climates, as they require less water and are better able to withstand periods of drought. Incorporating mulch and other ground covers in key areas can help reduce water loss from the soil through evaporation and prevent erosion.
Here are some examples of the types of plants commonly used in xeriscaping:
•    Native plants: Using native plants that are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions can help reduce water usage and maintenance needs. In Texas, some popular native plants for xeriscaping include Texas sage, blackfoot daisy, and rock rose.
•    Ornamental grasses: Ornamental grasses are drought-tolerant and add texture and movement to xeriscaped landscapes. Popular varieties include fountain grass, blue grama grass, and switchgrass.
•    Mediterranean plants: Many plants from Mediterranean climates, such as lavender, rosemary, and thyme, are well-suited for xeriscaping due to their ability to thrive in hot and dry conditions.
•    Wildflowers: Some wildflowers, such as Mexican hat, Indian blanket, and bluebonnet, are drought-tolerant and can add color and beauty to xeriscaped landscapes.
•    Succulents: Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, and roots, making them well-suited for xeriscaping. Popular succulent varieties include cacti, agave, and yucca.

If you love the idea of an English-style garden, there are plants that are native to Texas that will give you a cottage-garden feel while requiring minimal watering. For more, go here

For a list of drought-tolerant plants that will survive in the driest conditions, click here. Texas SmartScape also offers a plant database search, based on your individual needs. It can be accessed here.
What's next? 
1.    Use water-efficient techniques: Incorporate water-efficient techniques such as drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and soil amendments that can help retain moisture in the soil.
2.    Consider maintenance: Choose plants that require little maintenance and are well-suited to your lifestyle. Consider factors such as pruning, weeding, and pest control when selecting your plants.
3.    Implement your design: Begin by removing any unwanted vegetation, grading the site, and preparing the soil. Install any hardscaping elements, then plant your chosen plants and add any finishing touches such as mulch or decorative rocks.
4.    Maintain your xeriscape: Once your xeriscape is established, it will require less water and maintenance than a traditional lawn. However, you will still need to monitor the plants for pests and diseases, prune them as necessary, and replace any plants that do not thrive.
Xeriscaping saves water, saves time, and saves money, and is a great alternative to traditional landscaping. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice, xeriscaping is a great way to create a beautiful, sustainable landscape that will last for years to come. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a yard that is well-suited to your local climate and is both functional and beautiful.