Xeriscaping In Small Spaces: How To Create A Low-Water Garden In A Tight Space

Spring is the perfect time to begin planting your garden. If you’re looking for ways to minimize water use and save money, though, starting a xeriscape garden might be a better option. 

It can be tricky to get started with xeriscaping if you don’t have much space in your yard or container garden. 

But here are some tips on how to make the most of your small space by creating an attractive garden that’s also environmentally friendly:

Xeriscape Landscaping with Style in the AZ Desert
Key Takeaways
Xeriscaping is an ideal landscaping technique for small spaces, balconies, and paved areas.
Start by analyzing the sunlight, moisture, and wind patterns in your space to choose appropriate plants and hardscaping features.
Containers and raised beds can be a great way to add greenery and create an urban oasis.
Incorporate features like gravel or mulch to improve moisture retention and reduce runoff.
Maintaining your xeriscape garden is key to its success – be sure to water properly, prune as needed, and keep an eye out for pests and diseases.

A Mini Xeriscape Garden

If you’re looking for a way to reduce your water usage and create a beautiful garden in a tight space, consider creating a mini xeriscape garden. 

A mini xeriscape is designed to be planted in small areas, including patios, decks, and porches. These gardens are made up of drought-tolerant plants that require little to no supplemental watering after they are initially established. The best part? They look great!

Looking for ways to conserve water in your landscape? Our guide on Xeriscaping Ideas is a great place to start. Learn about creative solutions for using less water without sacrificing beauty or functionality.

Plant In Containers

Planting in containers is a great way to create a garden in a small space. You can easily move containers around to accommodate different light conditions, and they’re easy to water and fertilize. If you need to move your container garden, all you have to do is pick up the pot!

Best Container Plants for Small Spaces

Plant TypeVarietiesContainer Type
HerbsBasil, Cilantro, ParsleyTerra Cotta Pots
SucculentsEcheveria, Hens & Chicks, Zebra CactusConcrete Planters
VegetablesCherry Tomatoes, Peppers, BeansFabric Grow Bags
FlowersPetunias, Marigolds, PansiesHanging Baskets
ShrubsAzalea, Boxwood, JuniperDecorative Pots

Growing plants in containers is a great way to add greenery to small spaces, balconies, and patios. Just be sure to choose a container that is appropriate for the size and type of plant, and use a high-quality potting soil for optimal growth. Consider planting some of these popular container plants for a low-maintenance and beautiful urban garden.

Grow Annuals, Not Perennials

Annuals are the easiest way to get started gardening in a small space. They don’t require a lot of water and die off at the end of each season, so you’re not stuck with an entrenched perennial that needs constant care year after year. 

But if you’re afraid that annuals will be boring, think again! There are hundreds of varieties available from petunias to impatiens each with its own unique look and feel. And when you pair them with perennials like thyme or lavender (which also do well in containers), the effect can be stunning.

For those who want to take their container gardening one step further: Some annuals have been bred specifically as edging plants, meaning they look great along walkways and borders without needing much maintenance beyond trimming back dead leaves periodically. 

These include Portulaca grandiflora, Gold Fever and Happy Lights Mix (also known as Salvia farinacea).

Want to create a beautiful, sustainable garden that requires less water? Take a look at our guide on Xeriscaping Tips for expert advice and inspiration. From choosing the right plants to maximizing your soil’s moisture retention, we’ve got you covered.

Choose Plants That Need Little Water

The most important thing you can do to cut down on water use is to choose plants that need little water. A lot of people think that the best way to create a low-water garden is by choosing drought tolerant plants. 

Unfortunately, this is not always true some plants may be labeled as drought tolerant but actually prefer moist soil conditions or sandy soil and will die if planted in clay.

Instead, look for plants native to your area and that are low maintenance in general. For example, if you live in an area with hot summers and mild winters, succulents or cacti may be a good choice since they don’t require much water during the hot summer months (or at all). 

If you have cold winters where temperatures regularly drop below freezing points like I do here in Ohio then it’s probably not going to be possible for me personally because most succulents need full sun exposure which won’t happen during wintertime here!

Low-Water Plants for Xeriscaping

Plant TypeVarieties
SucculentsAloe Vera, Haworthia, Sedum
CactiBarrel Cactus, Prickly Pear, Fishhook Cactus
HerbsLavender, Thyme, Sage
ShrubsJuniper, Rosemary, Butterfly Bush
GrassesBlue Fescue, Indian Ricegrass, Buffalo Grass

Selecting plants that are native to your region and adapted to drought conditions will help you conserve water in your xeriscape. Consider incorporating some of these low-water plants in your landscape for a beautiful and sustainable garden.

Maximize Your Use Of Mulch

Mulch is a great way to keep weeds down and retain moisture, and it can be used in both garden beds and containers. 

Organic mulches such as wood chips or bark are available at most garden centers. You could also use recycled plastic, gravel, or even small stones around your plants.

Mulch should be applied 1-3 inches thick around each plant depending on the size of the plant itself and should be kept 2-3 inches away from its base. 

If you’re using mulch in pots or raised gardens (like xeriscaping), make sure not to cover drainage holes with too much material!

Want to make sure your xeriscaping efforts are successful and water-saving? Check out our guide on The Do’s and Don’ts of Xeriscaping for expert advice on what to avoid and what to prioritize. From plant selection to landscape design, we’ll help you create a beautiful, sustainable garden that conserves water.

Keep Plants Close Together

A common mistake in designing a xeriscape is to plant plants too far apart. While it’s true that plants need adequate space to grow, they also need each other. 

When you place your trees, shrubs and flowers close together, they can support each other by creating shade and providing windbreaks, which reduces the amount of water needed for survival. 

Plants grown closely together also help to shade out weeds because they grow more vigorously than their competitors do.

Plant Spacing Guidelines

Plant TypeRecommended Spacing
Vegetables12-18 inches
Flowers6-12 inches
Shrubs2-4 feet
Trees20-30 feet

Planting your plants close together can help reduce water usage and create a more efficient use of space. However, it’s important to ensure that plants have enough room to grow and thrive, so be sure to follow these spacing guidelines for optimal growth.

Use The Right Soil

One of the most important things you can do is to use the right type of soil. A good quality, organic mulch will also help prevent weeds and erosion. The best way to ensure that your plants thrive is by adding compost into your soil before planting anything. 

This will provide them with nutrients and allow them to soak up water faster than if you were using regular garden soil. 

You should also consider using a drip irrigation system or another type of irrigation method since most xeriscaped gardens require less water than traditional ones do.

Finally, fertilizing is absolutely essential for healthy plant growth in any garden environment even xeriscaping requires care and attention! 

After planting shrubs or trees make sure they get plenty of natural sunlight so they can grow quickly enough before winter comes along again next year when temperatures drop below freezing point again; otherwise they could die out completely due to lack of sunlight during autumn months where daylight hours increase slowly after sunset each night until reaching maximum length during winter solstice day (December 21).

If planning ahead properly then might still give yourself plenty of wiggle room if deciding whether or not to start now or wait until springtime arrives back again next year when temperatures rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit during summer months between June 21st through September 20th.”

Looking for a step-by-step guide to xeriscaping? Our guide on 13 Simple Steps to Successful Xeriscaping is perfect for beginners and experts alike. From soil preparation to irrigation strategies, we cover all the essential topics for a water-wise landscape.

Use Good Drainage

You should have good drainage in your small space garden. Soil that is well-drained will allow water to flow through the topsoil and into the subsoil where it can be absorbed by plants’ roots, instead of pooling on the surface.

Good drainage also prevents diseases and insects from breeding in standing water that collects after a rainstorm.

  • To ensure good drainage in your small space, choose plants that grow well in dry conditions or poor soil (for example: cacti, succulents)
  • Add gravel or rocks to create pathways between raised beds so you don’t compact or wash out your soil when walking on them
  • If you have a hard time telling if there is enough drainage in an area of your garden try putting down some cardboard overnight; if it’s wet in the morning then there isn’t adequate drainage

Don’t Fertilize Your Plants Too Much

What fertilizer can do to your plants:

Fertilizer can cause plants to grow too fast, which could damage their growth and structure. It’s better not to fertilize at all than to over-fertilize.

Too much fertilizer can cause plants to grow tall, wide and lopsided. This is because the nutrients are being distributed in an unbalanced way throughout the plant.

Tips for Fertilizing Your Plants

Fast-Release FertilizerEvery 2-3 weeksLess than 1 tablespoon per plant
Slow-Release FertilizerTwice a yearFollow package instructions
Liquid FertilizerEvery 2-3 weeksDilute according to instructions

Keep in mind that over-fertilization can harm your plants and the environment. Use fertilizers sparingly and choose a type that is appropriate for your specific plants and soil type. Always follow the instructions on the package or consult a professional for guidance.

Ask For Help

One of the most important things to remember when landscaping your small garden is to ask for help. While it’s certainly possible to do all of the work yourself, you’ll be much better off if you can find someone who knows what they’re doing.

Here are some great places to look:

  • Friends and family
  • Local gardeners
  • Your local nursery (if there’s one)
  • Parks and recreation department (they often have employees who will help out with projects)

Seek Out Green, Sustainable Materials For Your Garden Paths And Walls

Creating a garden in a small space is challenging, and you won’t be able to fit in all the amenities you want. So why not make your paths and walls low-maintenance? Seek out green, sustainable materials that will last without an excessive amount of effort on your part. 

Recycled rubber mulch makes an excellent path material because it’s durable, recyclable (and therefore eco-friendly), and soft enough for bare feet but sturdy enough for wheelchairs or strollers. 

It also breaks down quickly over time in about ten years so if you don’t like it anymore, just scoop it up and throw it away!

Natural stones such as pea gravel are another option for creating pathways in small spaces that require little upkeep beyond light sweeping. 

These materials can also be used to line raised beds with borders between them; they help keep soil from washing away while adding visual interest to your garden design at the same time. 

Another way to incorporate natural elements into your overall landscape design scheme is through using plantings like wildflowers or native grasses for ground cover instead of artificial turf which requires monthly watering throughout summer months when temperatures are high outside (and inside).

Curious about xeriscaping but not sure where to start? Our guide on Xeriscaping for Beginners is a great introduction to this sustainable landscaping technique. Learn about the benefits of xeriscaping, how to choose the right plants, and other essential tips for a water-wise garden.


We hope that this article helped you create a beautiful, sustainable garden in your small space. If you want to learn more about xeriscaping, check out our in-depth guide on the topic.

Further Reading

Xeriscape Landscaping: Learn more about xeriscaping, the benefits of conserving water, and how to design and maintain a xeriscape garden.

Xeriscaping Education Resources: National Geographic offers educational resources on xeriscaping, including videos, infographics, and interactive activities for students.

Xeriscaping Basics: Better Homes & Gardens provides an overview of xeriscaping, including plant selection, soil preparation, and irrigation techniques.


What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique designed to conserve water by using plants that are adapted to a region’s natural rainfall patterns and temperature. The term “xeriscape” combines “xeri,” meaning dry, with “scape,” meaning view or scene.

What are the benefits of xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping can save water, reduce maintenance costs, prevent erosion, and attract pollinators and wildlife. By selecting plants that are well-suited to a region’s climate and soil, xeriscaping can also create a beautiful and sustainable garden.

What are some popular xeriscape plants?

Popular xeriscape plants include succulents, such as agave and aloe, as well as native grasses, flowers, and shrubs. Many herbs, including lavender and rosemary, are also well-suited to xeriscaping.

Do I need to remove my lawn to xeriscape?

Not necessarily. While grass lawns require a lot of water to maintain, there are many ways to incorporate xeriscaping techniques into your existing lawn. For example, you could create a border of drought-resistant plants or use mulch to retain moisture in the soil.

Is xeriscaping more expensive than traditional landscaping?

Not necessarily. While xeriscaping may require an initial investment in soil preparation and plant selection, it can ultimately save money by reducing water bills and maintenance costs. Additionally, many xeriscape plants are low-maintenance and long-lived, making them a smart investment for your garden.