The Do’s And Don’ts Of Xeriscaping: Expert Advice For A Successful Water-Saving Garden

If you have limited water resources, xeriscaping can be the perfect solution to your gardening needs. It’s a simple process: Xeriscape is the art and science of creating gardens that use little or no supplemental water. 

The term “xeriscape” was created by landscape architect, Bob Phillips, in 1988 when he wrote a book titled Designing with Nature: The Natural Garden in California . 

For years before this time, he had been practicing this technique in his own yard in Denver , Colorado.

What Is Xeriscaping? 5 Things You Should Know
Key Takeaways
Xeriscaping is a water-wise gardening technique that can help you conserve water while still creating a beautiful and functional landscape.
By selecting drought-tolerant plants, improving soil health, and reducing water usage in your landscape, you can create a sustainable, low-water garden.
Other sustainable landscaping practices, such as mulching and reducing lawn areas, can also help you create an eco-friendly landscape that supports wildlife and conserves resources.
When xeriscaping, it’s important to choose plants and techniques that are suitable for your regional climate and landscape conditions.
Additional resources, such as articles and guidelines, are available to help you learn more about xeriscaping and other sustainable landscaping practices.

Don’t Plant Grass

Grass is a high maintenance plant that requires regular watering, fertilizing and mowing. While many homeowners like the look of grass lawns and want to keep up with the Joneses, you are better off replacing your lawn with native plants or other low-maintenance options. 

Grass can be used for ground cover in shady areas, but this use is not recommended if you live in an area where wildfires are common (such as Southern California).

Xeriscaping involves planning and designing a garden that conserves water, and there are many techniques you can use to achieve this. Our Xeriscaping Tips for a Beautiful Sustainable Garden article provides helpful advice for creating a sustainable garden that is both beautiful and water-wise.

Don’t Replace Healthy Plants

You should also avoid replacing healthy plants. If they’re doing well, then they are providing you with the benefit of their beauty and your garden is better off because of it. 

Replacing them will be an unnecessary expense and can harm your other plants by throwing off their balance. In addition to this, if you have a large enough backyard or garden space, there’s no reason to replace old and worn out plants just because they aren’t in their prime anymore. 

Instead, focus on maintaining them properly so that they can stay beautiful for many more years to come!

PlantAverage LifespanCommon Reasons for ReplacementTips for Longevity
Monstera Deliciosa5-10 yearsLack of growth, overcrowding, or decline in healthProvide support, avoid overwatering, and prune regularly.
Rubber Tree5-10 yearsYellowing or drooping leaves, root rot, or insect infestationsProvide well-draining soil, indirect sunlight, and consistent watering.
Ficus5-15 yearsYellowing or falling leaves, excessive pruning, or cold temperaturesProvide bright, indirect sunlight, avoid overwatering, and allow soil to completely dry before watering.
ZZ Plant4-6 yearsRoot rot, overwatering, or insect infestationsAllow soil to dry completely before watering, avoid direct sunlight, and use well-draining soil.
Snake Plant5-10 yearsOverwatering, root rot, or insect infestationsAvoid overwatering, provide well-draining soil, and allow soil to dry completely between watering.

This table provides information on the average lifespan, common reasons for replacement, and tips for longevity of some of the most popular indoor plants.

By understanding how to keep your plants healthy and thriving, you can avoid the need for frequent replacements and enjoy the beauty and benefits of indoor plants for years to come.

Do Choose Local Plants

When deciding what plants to choose for your Xeriscape, you should always opt for local species. These plants are adapted to the climate and soil conditions of your region, so they are far more likely to survive and thrive in your area. 

Native plants also require less maintenance than exotic species, since you won’t need to constantly water them or fertilize them.

If you want wildlife in your garden, then using native flora is a must because they attract native pollinators and other animals.

You will also save money by choosing local plants: They cost less than non-native varieties because they don’t have such long shipping distances (and therefore costs) associated with them!

Do you have limited space but still want to create a sustainable, low-water garden? Our Xeriscaping in Small Spaces: How to Create a Low-Water Garden in a Tight Space article provides valuable tips on creating a beautiful, low-water garden in small areas.

Do Reduce Your Lawn Area

The first step to xeriscaping is to reduce your lawn area. Lawns use a lot of water, and they’re not necessary for a beautiful yard. 

They don’t contribute to the ecosystem, either; lawns are imported from England and can be detrimental to native species in many parts of North America. If you do have a lawn, try replacing it with mulch or rocks.

Lawns also cost money and time to maintain. If you don’t want to spend money on them anymore, consider converting them into something else more useful (like more garden space).

Do Use Mulch In Your Garden

Mulch is a great way to retain moisture and control weeds. It can be made from a variety of materials, including wood chips, straw, bark, or compost. 

Mulch works by keeping the soil surface cool so that evaporation is slowed down. This conserves water in your plants and keeps them healthy.

Xeriscaping is a great way to create a beautiful garden that conserves water while saving you time and money. Discover the many benefits of xeriscaping by reading our The Benefits of Xeriscaping: How a Low-Water Garden Can Save You Time and Money article.

Do Invest In A Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are a great way to reduce water usage, reduce waste and save money. This is because they give you the ability to capture rainwater that would otherwise be lost through runoff or evaporation (and then onto your neighbor’s lawn). 

You can then use this captured water for things like watering the garden, washing your car or even filling the toilet tank in an emergency. 

Rain barrels are easy to install and maintain; many models come with a spigot on top so that you can easily fill up any container that needs water.

Good Ideas RW50-OAK50 GallonsPolyethyleneBrass spigot, overflow hose, childproof locking lid
Algreen Products Athena80 GallonsRotomolded plasticDual spigot outlets for easy hose attachment, screened inlet, UV-resistant finish
EarthMinded DIY Rain Barrel Kit55 GallonsRecycled food-grade plasticEasy-to-install instructions, includes all necessary parts, customizable with paint or stickers
RTS Home Accents 50 Gallon ECO Rain Water Collection Barrel50 GallonsBPA-free polyethyleneBrass spigot, aluminum screen, flat back design for space-saving placement
FreeGarden RAIN 55-Gallon Rain Barrel55 GallonsRecycled plasticEasy-to-read water level indicator, mosquito-proof opening, childproof lid

This table provides information on five high-quality rain barrel options that can help you collect and store rainwater for use in your garden or for other non-potable water needs. By investing in a rain barrel, you can conserve water, reduce your water bill, and provide your plants with the natural, chemical-free water they need to thrive.

Don’t Water The Wrong Time Of Day

Even if you follow all of the other guidelines we’ve looked at thus far, if you don’t water at the right times, it’s still not going to be enough! 

Watering during the wrong hours can have a disastrous effect on your landscape’s health and appearance. So here are some general rules for when not to water:

Don’t water overnight. The soil will simply absorb whatever moisture there is left in it after sunset, which may contribute towards overwatering later on in the day when temperatures start climbing again. 

If possible, try watering early in the morning before sunrise or late in evening after sunset when plants typically need less hydration than they do during midday hours (which is often when most people tend to take care of their lawns).

Don’t irrigate just before the hot summer sun begins beating down on your garden beds. This will further promote evaporation from plant leaves and lead to drying out conditions that could kill off delicate plant shoots faster than expected—or worse yet—cause them to burn up completely! 

Instead wait until things start thawing out just slightly (about 30 minutes) before getting started with irrigation chores so that watering doesn’t become an exhausting chore later down the line…

Sustainable landscaping practices can help you create a beautiful, environmentally-friendly garden that conserves resources and supports wildlife. Check out our The Top 15 Sustainable Landscaping Practices You Need to Know About article to learn more about these essential practices.

Don’t Overwater Your Plants

When you water your plants, be careful not to overwater them. Overwatering can cause root rot, which is a very serious problem for most plants and can kill them if left untreated. In addition, overwatered plants tend not to absorb nutrients as well as they would otherwise. 

Finally, because water is a solvent for many compounds in soil and on the surface of leaves (such as pesticides), too much of it will wash away some of these substances before they have time to work their way into the ground or onto leaves where they are needed by the plant.

To avoid these problems with over-watering, consider using a rain gauge or other device that measures how much rainfall has occurred since last watering time so that you won’t apply more than what’s needed at any given moment in time without being wasteful or wasteful just because you’re unsure how long ago your last irrigation session was done!

PlantIdeal Moisture LevelSigns of Overwatering
Snake PlantAllow top inch of soil to dry before wateringWilting, yellowing, or mushy leaves
PothosWater once every 7-10 daysWilting, brown spots, or drooping leaves
ZZ PlantWater once every 2-3 weeksYellowing leaves or soft stems
Spider PlantAllow top 1-2 inches of soil to dry before wateringWilting, brown leaf tips, or root rot
Peace LilyWater once a weekYellowing leaves or root rot

This table provides guidance on how to avoid overwatering common houseplants, and includes recommended moisture levels as well as signs of overwatering to watch out for. By following these guidelines and being vigilant about signs of overwatering, you can help keep your plants healthy and thriving.

Don’t Automatically Fertilize Your Landscape

Fertilizing is a great way to improve plant health, but it’s not always necessary. Most plants need only minimal amounts of fertilizer and too much can be harmful to the environment as well as your plants. 

“All residential landscapes should be tested for soil pH, nutrient levels and heavy metals,” says Ken Jones, horticulturist at Sunset Nursery & Garden Centers in Menlo Park, Calif. “If any deficiencies are detected by these tests and most likely they will be they can then be corrected with organic amendments.”

If you do decide to fertilize your landscape, don’t just pick up any product off the shelf at the store; make sure it’s labeled specifically for use on California landscapes or other water-wise landscapes in areas where you live.

Sustainable landscaping doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Our 15 Simple Steps to Sustainable Landscaping for the Busy Homeowner article provides easy-to-follow advice for creating an eco-friendly garden and reducing your environmental footprint.


If you’re looking to make your lawn more sustainable and save water, start by eliminating the grass. Then, think about replacing some of your trees or shrubs with drought-resistant plants. 

You can also reduce your lawn area in favor of native plants and mulch, which will help protect your soil from erosion while also reducing water usage throughout the year. 

If all else fails, invest in a rain barrel!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about xeriscaping and sustainable landscaping:

How to Get Started with Xeriscaping: This article provides a helpful overview of xeriscaping and offers tips for getting started with this water-wise gardening technique.

7 Xeriscape Principles to Follow: This blog post outlines seven important principles of xeriscaping and provides advice on how to use these principles to create a beautiful and sustainable garden.

Xeriscape Do’s and Don’ts: This article provides a comprehensive list of xeriscape landscaping do’s and don’ts, which can help you avoid common mistakes and create a successful xeriscape garden.


What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a water-efficient gardening technique that is designed to conserve water while still creating a beautiful and functional landscape.

What are the benefits of xeriscaping?

Some of the benefits of xeriscaping include reduced water usage, lower maintenance requirements, decreased use of fertilizers and pesticides, and a reduced impact on the environment.

What are some essential xeriscaping principles?

Some essential xeriscaping principles include selecting drought-tolerant plants, mulching to retain moisture, improving soil health, and reducing lawn areas.

Is xeriscaping suitable for all climates?

Yes, xeriscaping is a versatile technique that can be adapted to different climate zones. However, the specific plants and techniques used may vary depending on the climate.

How can I get started with xeriscaping?

To get started with xeriscaping, you should first assess your landscape and identify areas where you can reduce water usage. Then, choose drought-tolerant plants and incorporate water-saving techniques like mulching and soil improvement to create a sustainable, low-water garden.