Xeriscape Landscaping Ideas
Successful xeriscape landscaping incorporates three key principles: drought-resistance, tolerance of a variety of soil types, and hardy, native plants. These three factors support a wide range of landscaping ideas.
Drought-Resistant Native and Local Plants
In parts of North America, where drinkable water is becoming scarce, the archetypal turf lawn's days are numbered. In the southwest USA, they are nearly extinct already. Plants that can survive on low quantities of water are the most popular for xeriscape gardens. Among these are varieties of ornamental grass like maidengrass, northern sea oats, and blue fescue.
Flowering plants that are water-misers include lamb's ears, coneflower in various colors, bluebeard, coreopsis "moonbeam," and stonecrop. They have tiny clustered blooms instead of large, wide-open flower heads. Many types of native daylily and iris, along with California poppy also resist drought well, and have the large, colorful heads that most garden lovers consider true flowers, instead of herbs.
Decorative leaf plants that can manage on little water include cosmos and hosta. Both have been popular for edging of gardens of all kinds for decades.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "New plants require water to set roots, consider a rain barrel to conserve water."
Tolerance of Low-Fertility and Sandy Soils
Along with low water demand, many xeriscape plants flourish in soils low in humus. In fact some, like maidenhair and northern sea oats, prefer well-drained, sandy soils.
Beneficial and Aesthetic Wildlife Garden Design
Many xeriscape plants are beloved by butterflies and hummingbirds, who feast on the nectar of the tiny flowers. Among these are the Autumn Joy variety of stonecrop, bluebeard, and coreopsis. The dark heads of coneflowers draw dazzling goldfinches to your garden. Lamb's ear, on the other hand, proves helpful in keeping deer away from your xeriscape garden. The soft fuzzy texture of the leaves is reportedly repellent to deer.
TIP: Susan suggests, "Choose plants that are appropriate for your growing region."
Traditional Row Design
Xeriscape gardens can be laid out in traditional rows, with tallest plants at the back, intermediate height plants in a center row, and a short-growing type in the front. Alternate the rows with grasses, shrubs and flowering plants. Leave room between for sunlight to reach the stalks and leaves, but shade the roots.
Clump and Scatter Design
On a site that gets full sun, group the plants that love the light. Place bluebeard in the centre of a circle. Orbit it with hosta and edge with a low grass like blue fescue.
Rock Garden Design
Xeriscape landscaping also complements a rock or terrace garden on a slope. Plant the least thirsty on the highest terrace or slope of the rock garden, in clumps rather than ruler-straight lines. On lower levels, place the ground cover that needs more water.
Monochrome Rock Garden Design
Coordinate foliage with rock color for a xeriscape that highlights texture rather than color, using non-flowering plants and grasses with silver or pale green leaves among light and dark gray river-smoothed rocks.
Handkerchief Lawn Design
On your tiny inner-city front lawn, remove the turf grass altogether and plant coneflowers, iris, poppy, and lavender in a border around an ornamental grass like maidenhair. Your neighbors will stop to chat more often.