Xeriscaping For Beginners: How To Get Started

Have you ever heard the term “xeriscaping” and thought it was a fancy new way to say “watering your plants?” Well, here’s the deal: Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping that focuses on smart water use, conservation, and sustainability. 

It’s not just about saving water it can also save money and help preserve natural resources. And while it may sound like a daunting task, don’t worry we’ve got your back! 

In this article we’ll break down everything you need to know about xeriscaping for beginners.

Xeriscape Made Easy – The ONLY Video You’ll Need to Watch
Key Takeaways
Xeriscaping is a type of gardening that conserves water through the use of drought-tolerant plants and smart irrigation techniques.
It is possible to create a beautiful, low-maintenance garden that is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective through xeriscaping.
Native plants and drought-tolerant species are ideal for xeriscaping, requiring less water and being better adapted to the local climate.
Xeriscaping in existing lawns is possible by replacing parts of the lawn with xeriscape gardens as a way to conserve water and reduce maintenance.
According to the EPA, xeriscaping can reduce outdoor water use by up to 60%.

Garden In The Morning Or In The Evening

The best time to water your xeriscaped garden is in the morning or evening. Watering plants in the heat of the day will cause them to lose more moisture through transpiration, and will make it less likely for them to absorb what you’re offering them. The soil is also warmer in these times of day.

So if you have a garden with lots of cacti and succulents, it’s best to avoid watering during that hour before sunset or after sunrise and just stick with those two hours!

Xeriscaping is an easy way to conserve water and create a beautiful outdoor space. As our article on xeriscaping ideas explains, there are many creative ways to save water in your landscape, from choosing drought-resistant plants to using mulch and gravel.

Use Native Plants And Hardy Species

Native plants are typically well-suited to your region. By using these, you’ll be helping the environment and keeping your water bill low.

Native plants are also more likely to be able to survive in your specific climate. If you’re not sure what a native plant is or where you can find one near you, ask an expert at a nursery or garden center.

Native and Hardy Plants

AgaveDrought-tolerant succulent with fleshy leaves and striking architectural interest.
Black-Eyed SusanHardy, drought-tolerant perennial with bright yellow or orange flowers and dark centers.
Butterfly BushHardy, drought-tolerant shrub with fragrant spikes of colorful flowers that attract pollinators.
CactusDrought-tolerant succulent with distinctive, prickly stems and showy flowers.
Hens and ChicksSlow-growing, drought-tolerant succulent with fleshy leaves and a unique rosette pattern.

Compost And Mulch Everything

Composting is a great way to recycle and reduce waste. It can also help you improve your soil’s health, helping plants grow faster and healthier. 

Composting can be done in a variety of ways, including homemade compost piles or purchasing a bin from the store. You can even start with just putting all of your food scraps into a plastic bag in your backyard!

Once you have started composting, mulch everything! Mulching around your plants helps retain moisture, which is especially helpful during dry months when watering might not be an option for you (or maybe it’s just too hot).

If you’re looking to create a sustainable and low-maintenance garden, xeriscaping is the way to go. Our article on xeriscaping tips offers expert advice on how to create a gorgeous, water-wise garden that will thrive, even in the driest of climates.

Capture Rainwater

Rainwater is a free and abundant source of water. It can be used to water plants, wash cars, and even clean the sidewalk.

If you have a backyard with at least one tree or bush, consider installing a rain barrel. You can pick up a barrel for about $50 at most hardware stores and add it to your downspout system to collect rainwater during storms. 

The system will automatically direct the collected water into your barrel when it rains there’s no need for you to do anything other than fill up your watering cans whenever they’re full!

Another option is using buckets or watering cans as catch basins throughout your yard as well as on rooftops where they’ll collect rainwater runoff from gutters (which prevents erosion). 

If all else fails, there are plenty of options available online that will allow homeowners like yourself access to affordable irrigation systems without having any prior experience – just make sure whatever method you choose isn’t going anywhere near the street otherwise all bets are off!

Group Your Plants

All this information can be used to group plants by height, color and texture. If you have a large space that needs filling, it is helpful to break down your grouping into smaller sections. 

You may also want to choose plants based on blooming season if you plan on enjoying the flowers of your garden for several months of the year.

For example:

Sun or Shade requirements – Some plants will only grow in full sunlight while others will thrive with partial shade from surrounding trees or buildings.

Water Needs – Plants that require more water should be placed where they can receive regular rainfall from overhead sprinklers or rain gutters; those requiring less water should be grouped together in areas where irrigation has been taken care of by someone else such as a lawn service company or even yourself if you have an automatic sprinkler system installed at home!

Xeriscaping may seem daunting at first, but with our article on the Do’s and Don’ts of xeriscaping, you’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful garden that is both water-wise and sustainable. From choosing the right plants to proper irrigation techniques, our experts have got you covered.

Use Groundcover

Groundcover plants are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants that can be used to cover bare patches and create a hardscape. 

They’re also useful in softscapes (landscaping with more organic elements like grasses) and water features where they act as a natural filter. Some popular groundcovers include:

  • Ajuga
  • Bugleweed
  • Shrubby cinquefoil

Groundcover Options

Blue Star CreeperDrought-tolerant groundcover with tiny blue flowers and dense, spreading growth habit.
Irish MossLow-growing groundcover with a lush, moss-like appearance and small white flowers.
ThymeFragrant, drought-tolerant groundcover with small leaves and pink or white flowers.
Corsican MintDrought-tolerant groundcover with a minty fragrance and tiny, lilac-colored flowers.
Creeping PhloxLow-maintenance groundcover with masses of blooms in shades of pink, purple, and white.

Harvest Winter Water

Harvesting rainwater is one of the easiest ways to reduce your water bill. Rainwater harvesting can be done on a large or small scale, with just a few inexpensive components. 

On the small scale, you can collect and store enough water for your garden by placing two 55 gallon barrels under gutters on your home. One barrel will catch the water from the front gutter and the other from the back gutter.

When it rains, this captured water can be used to wash cars or clean laundry; however, if you want to use it for drinking purposes or watering plants in larger amounts than this bucket method allows for, then consider building an underground cistern (located beneath ground level). 

This type of system has a storage tank which holds several thousand gallons of water and uses gravity feed lines that carry water into tanks located where they are needed most for example: bathrooms in high traffic areas like kitchens or laundry rooms will need more frequent access than other areas such as garages where vehicles tend not be parked close together at all times (making them less likely to get dirty). 

The bottom line is there’s no reason why anyone should go without fresh drinking water when there are plenty of options available today!

Even if you have limited outdoor space, xeriscaping is still an option! Our article on xeriscaping in small spaces offers tips on how to create a low-water garden in tight spaces, using containers, raised beds, and smart plant choices.

Buy Drought-Tolerant Plants

When it comes to selecting plants, there are a few ways you can go wrong. First, you need to make sure that your chosen plant has the right watering needs. 

Some plants have very specific water requirements and may not do well if watered by hand or by sprinkler. 

Second, the timing of when you plant is important as well. The best season for planting depends on where in North America (or other parts of the world) you live; consult an expert for advice about this step-by-step process.

Finally, once you’ve made sure your plant has the right water requirements and is being planted during its appropriate season, consider how much water it will need once planted at home! 

If a shrub needs supplemental irrigation during summer months but also likes dry winters (like many types of sage), consider buying two separate shrubs instead one with low-water requirements that won’t suffer from overwatering and one with high-water needs that will stay healthy even if they get too much water in summer months while they’re actively growing hardwood saplings into full trees.

When considering drought tolerance when choosing plants: look at each species individually when making decisions on which ones would be best suited for your garden because some have different needs depending on their variety type or cultivar type (such as:”drought tolerant”).

Drought-Tolerant Plants

LavenderDrought-tolerant, fragrant perennial plant with feathery silver leaves and purple flowers.
ConeflowerDrought-tolerant, sun-loving perennial with showy flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white.
Russian SageDrought-tolerant, hardy perennial with silvery foliage and blue-purple flowers.
YarrowSun-loving, drought-tolerant perennial with feathery foliage and clusters of pink, yellow, or white flowers.
SedumDrought-tolerant succulent with fleshy leaves and clusters of tiny flowers in shades of pink, red, and white.

Keep Your Soil Healthy!

Soil is the foundation for your garden, so it’s important to make sure that it has the nutrients needed to support healthy plant growth. 

To do this, you should test your soil at least once a year. Your local university extension office can test your soil for free or you can use an online service like the Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory

Once you know what levels of nutrients are in your soil, work with a professional to amend them by adding materials high in nitrogen (like compost) or phosphorus (like bone meal). Your plants will be healthier and the environment will thank you!

If you’re looking to create a drought-resistant landscape, be sure to check out our article on 10 xeriscaping tips for expert advice on how to make your garden beautiful and sustainable, while conserving water. From choosing native plants to proper soil preparation, these tips will help you create the perfect xeriscape.

Plant Carefully, And Prune Properly

One of the best ways to keep your plants healthy is by pruning them. This is especially true if you have ever seen a neglected rosebush or tree that has grown too large and needed to be cut down. 

Pruning can also reduce the size of your plants so that they fit better in their space and don’t overwhelm other areas around them.

To prune correctly:

  • Cut back branches as close to their base as possible without cutting into it (if you do this, the branch will heal over quickly). If you don’t cut them back enough, they will grow into unwanted shapes, which will make your yard less attractive!
  • Use sharp tools when you’re pruning—it’ll help prevent accidents (and injury).
Choose the right plantsSelect plants that are well-suited to your local climate and soil type.
Water deeply and infrequentlyWatering deeply once or twice a week is better than frequent, shallow watering.
Fertilize appropriatelyFertilize plants at the right time, in the right amount, with the right type of fertilizer.
Prune properlyRemove dead or diseased branches, unwanted growth, and overgrown branches regularly to keep plants healthy.
Use the right toolsUse high-quality pruning tools such as loppers, shears, and saws to make clean, precise cuts.

Plant Under Trees For Extra Moisture And Shade

Another great way to take advantage of the shade and moisture that trees provide is through planting under them. Trees are known for their ability to shade an area, which can keep plants cool in hot weather. 

In addition, many types of trees also have shallow roots that help with water retention and moisture retention in the soil under the tree’s canopy. This gives new plantings an added boost when it comes to being able to sustain themselves in drier conditions or cooler temperatures.

Learn About Your Soil Type

As you are planning your xeriscape, you will want to become familiar with the soil type in your yard. This is important because each type of soil has certain characteristics that determine how well it can sustain plant life. Some soils may be better than others for growing certain plants and grasses, or they may not be able to support certain plants at all.

If you have a large part of your yard covered with grass, then consider how much water the lawn needs on a daily basis. 

The different types of grasses require varying amounts of water in order to thrive properly. For example, Bermuda grass needs less water than St Augustine or Centipede due to its ability to withstand drought conditions longer than other types of turfgrass.

Soil Types

Soil TypeDescription
Sandy soilSandy soil is loose, has low fertility, and doesn’t retain water well. It’s often found in arid regions or coastal areas.
Clay soilClay soil is dense, nutrient-rich, and retains water well. It can be difficult to work with due to its heavy texture.
Loam soilLoam soil is a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay that provides ideal growing conditions for most plants.
Silt soilSilt soil is made up of small particles and is highly fertile, but doesn’t retain water well. It’s often found near rivers and streams.
Peat soilPeat soil is rich in organic matter, but has a high acidity level and doesn’t retain water well. It’s often used in gardening as a soil amendment.


So, now that you know the basics of xeriscaping and have a few ideas of what to do with your yard, it’s time to get started! Whether your goal is just to improve the look of your home or do something really special with it, we hope this article has given you some inspiration. 

We know that starting any new garden project can be tough. There are so many questions about what plants will work best for your soil type, how much water they need during different seasons, etcetera. 

But don’t let this overwhelm you; as long as you keep things simple at first and stick with plants that are hardy enough for our climate (like cactus), then everything should turn out fine in the end and if not? Well then there’s always next year!

Further Reading

How to Get Started with Xeriscaping: A guide to xeriscaping that covers the basics of water-wise gardening, including plant selection, water retention, and irrigation.

Beginner’s Guide to Xeriscaping: An introduction to xeriscaping for those new to water-wise gardening, with tips on how to design and maintain a xeriscape garden.

Xeriscaping for Beginners: A comprehensive guide to xeriscaping that covers everything from plant selection and soil preparation to proper irrigation techniques.


What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a type of gardening that conserves water through the use of drought-tolerant plants and smart irrigation techniques.

What are the benefits of xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping allows you to create a beautiful, low-maintenance garden that is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

What types of plants are best for xeriscaping?

Native plants and drought-tolerant species are ideal for xeriscaping. They require less water and are better adapted to the local climate.

Do I need to remove my existing lawn to xeriscape?

No, you don’t have to remove your lawn entirely to xeriscape. You can choose to replace parts of your lawn with xeriscape gardens as a way to conserve water and reduce maintenance.

How much water can I save by xeriscaping?

According to the EPA, xeriscaping can reduce outdoor water use by up to 60%.