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Xeriscaping is water conservation through creative landscaping. It involves combining low-water plants with hard surfaces around your yard, and encourages water-smart design and maintenance of your property.

Here are Xeriscaping’s seven basic principles:

  1. Design your yard with water conservation in mind. Work with a landscaper on a plan that locates a shaded patio, ground cover and even a few higher-water plants close to the house, where they can help cool and shade it. The farther from the house a plant is, the more drought-tolerant it should be.
  2. Choose low-water plants. Arizona abounds with native, drought-tolerant plants that are hardy and colorful. A landscaper can help you select the right ones for your yard’s soil condition and exposure.
  3. Limit your lawn. Grass needs lots of watering, so plant as little of it as you can stand. Limit it to your children’s play area and a pet run, and use ground covers and hard surfaces over the rest of the yard.
  4. Irrigate efficiently. Replace your whirly-bird sprinkler—the one that waters your sidewalks and house as well as your lawn—with an inexpensive drip irrigator, which drips water only on the plant that needs watering. Rig your sprinklers to timers. Invest in an irrigator with a controller that automatically senses when your plants need water and doesn’t turn itself on if they don’t. 
  5. Harvest water. Even though it doesn’t rain much in Arizona, consider collecting rainwater when it does. Digging shallow ditches around your flowerbeds, for example, will trap rainwater there so you don’t have to water as often. Consider installing a rain barrel at the end of your gutter downspout and using the water it collects to water your plants.
  6. Mulch your plants. Placing mulch on the soil under and around plants helps hold in soil moisture and lower the soil’s temperature during the summer. Bonus: It keeps weeds away.
  7. Take care of your yard. A well-maintained plant needs less water. Proper fertilizing, pruning and weed control can keep your plants healthier.

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