• Kassi K.

What is Xeriscape Landscaping?

Xeriscaping (pronounced zeh-ri-skay-ping) is a term that comes up a lot within the landscaping world. It is a very popular style of landscaping, especially in arid environments such as our own. With the rising awareness of the lack of sustainability of traditional landscapes, which comprise the vast majority of landscapes throughout America, comes an increased awareness of different landscaping methods that are trendy in appearance as well as much more sustainable environmentally and economically.

Xeriscape Landscaping

What Does Xeriscape Mean in Landscaping?

The word “xeric” is defined as something that has very little moisture or that is very dry in nature. In the world of landscaping, a xeriscape refers to a landscape that is xeric or a landscape that requires very little moisture. Most plants that require very little moisture are native plants, as our natural environment suits them and their growth needs. Along with being native plants, xeric plants have many other desirable features that make xeriscape landscaping so appealing. Due to being native, they are also often drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly, deer and rabbit resistant, and more!


What Is the Typical Cost of Xeriscaping?

Everyone wants to know what to expect in terms of cost when either beginning a new landscape or redoing an old one. However, this question is entirely dependent on the size and extent of the job, which can only be estimated after our landscape designers have been able to visit a location and create a design. So, while we cannot provide a lot of insight into the initial cost of your potential new landscape project, we can tell you that xeriscaping costs are very similar to the costs of designing and installing traditional landscapes, however, the long-term costs that are usually associated with traditional landscapes are greatly diminished with xeriscapes. This is due to the fact that plants will last longer, require less pest and disease treatment, require less maintenance, require significantly less water, and the like. You will spend much less of your time managing your landscape and more time enjoying it!


What Type of Plants Are Best for Xeriscape Landscaping?

There are countless different options for xeric plants to add to your landscape. Many people think that the options are limited to ornamental grasses and plants lacking in color, but that is definitely not true! The options can be overwhelming when you really start doing your research on xeric plants. To help you get started, we've put together descriptions of six of our favorite blooming xeric plants, and if you would like to discover more, check out our Plant Finder! This is an extremely helpful tool that allows you to use filtering options to help you find a collection of plants that suit your fancy and that will also grow well in your space.


Blue Flax (Linum 'Sapphire')

Blue Flax is absolutely one of the favorite Western wildflowers for gardens and meadows. Its profuse true blue flowers match the summer sky. A compact variety with good vigor and a long season of blooms. A colorful re-seeding variety for naturalizing in beds and grass meadows.

Blue Flax

Blue Flax Characteristics:

  • Plant Type: Perennial

  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 12-15 inches

  • Width: 18 inches

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Bloom Color: Blue

  • Bloom Time: Summer

  • Attributes: Cut flower, deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, rabbit resistant, native, xeric

Red Feathers (Echium amoenum)

Red Feathers

Consists of a basal tuft of dark green, linear leaves which produce spikes of feathery, russet-red flowers in spring. This adaptable plant resembles a reddish, spring-blooming Liatris with vibrant designer color. Reseeds readily so deadhead spent flowers when finished blooming. Will re-bloom again in summer if deadheaded. Prefers drip irrigation. Hardy to 9,000'


Red Feathers Characteristics:

  • Plant Type: Perennial

  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 12-16 inches

  • Width: 6-10 inches

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Bloom Color: Red

  • Bloom Time: Fall, Summer

  • Attributes: Attracts bees, deer resistant, drought tolerant, staff favorite, native, xeric

Veronica, Turkish (Veronica liwanensis)

This sturdy groundcover forms a hard flat mat with waxy, nearly succulent, teardrop-shaped leaves. It is reliably evergreen and takes on purplish tints in the hot sun. Cobalt blue flowers cover the leaves from April to June. Plants perform best in well-drained soil. Additional irrigation during the heat of summer will help keep the foliage bright and green. Will tolerate foot traffic 1-2 times per day.

Turkish Veronica

Turkish Veronica Characteristics:

  • Plant Type: Groundcover, Perennial

  • Hardiness Zone: 3-10, hardy to 8,500 feet

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 1-3 inches

  • Width: 15-18 inches

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Bloom Color: Blue-purple

  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer

  • Attributes: Attracts butterflies, deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, fast-growing, winter interest, native, xeric, groundcover

Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata 'Arizona Sun')

Red-orange flowers with bright yellow outer edges. These beauties are tolerant of a wide range of conditions as long as they are planted in soil that drains well. Their beautiful colors stand out among other plants and they are fantastic for attracting bees and butterflies to your yard!

Gaillardia

Gaillardia Characteristics:

  • Plant Type: Perennial

  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9, hardy to 8,500 feet

  • Light Requirements: Sun

  • Height: 10-16 inches

  • Width: 12-24 inches

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Bloom Color: Multicolor, Orange, Red, Yellow

  • Bloom Time: Summer

  • Attributes: Attracts bees, attracts butterflies, cut flower, deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, rabbit resistant, staff favorite, native, xeric

Cushion Spurge 'Bonfire' (Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire')

One of the best landscape plants for all-season color. 'Bonfire' is one of the most colorful spurges ever invented! The top growth is a fantastic combination of deep purple, red, and orange leaves with a touch of chartreuse, while the undergrowth is green. The foliage tends to deepen to burgundy red at the height of summer and turns a rich red color in the fall.

Cushion Spurge

Cushion Spurge Characteristics:

  • Plant Type: Perennial

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9, hardy to 7,500 feet

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 12-18 feet

  • Width: 3 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green, Multicolor, Red

  • Bloom Color: Yellow

  • Fall Color: Multicolor, Orange, Red

  • Bloom Time: Spring

  • Attributes: Cut flower, deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, rabbit resistant, salt-tolerant, staff favorite, native, xeric

Hyssop/Hummingbird Mint (Agastache)

Orange trumpet-like flowers from midsummer to autumn frost. Foliage is intensely aromatic and this plant is a favorite of hummingbirds. Plant in areas with full sun or a warm microclimate to ensure longevity. Hyssop does not respond well to over-watering, so keep these plants on the dry side once established. Wait until spring to cut back old growth.

Hyssop

Hyssop Characteristics:

  • Plant Type: Perennial

  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 16-18 inches

  • Width: 12-16 inches

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Bloom Color: Orange

  • Bloom Time: Fall, Summer

  • Attributes: Attracts bees, attracts butterflies, attracts hummingbirds, cut flower, deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, rabbit resistant, staff favorite, fragrant, native, xeric


What Are the Benefits of Xeriscape Landscaping?

There are so many different benefits to having a xeric landscape. They are overall more sustainable, less costly, require substantially less work, are better for the environment, and more. Let’s dig into a few of these benefits!


Xeriscapes are More Sustainable

The main reason why xeriscaping is so popular is mainly due to the sustainable aspect. The sheer amount of water that traditional landscapes use per year to keep them looking lush and beautiful is shocking, not to mention costly!


Xeriscapes are Lower-Maintenance

Xeric landscape designs very often incorporate hardscape elements such as gravel, rock, boulders, mulch, and a number of other non-living materials. The benefit of this is that such hardscape elements require little to no maintenance and remain in good condition for years on end. Your plants will need some seasonal maintenance, such as pruning for shape or cutting back any dead plant material in the spring, but many of the other more tedious landscape maintenance tasks such as mowing, fertilizing, aerating, edging and the like are no longer necessary when you choose to use xeric plants in the place of more traditional landscape elements.


Xeriscapes are Less Costly

This is true for a number of reasons. Not only do they cost less in terms of watering requirements, but xeriscapes also do not require all of the special tools and products of a landscape that uses non-native plants. Non-native plants will also have a harder time surviving cold winters or hot summers, or they could become ravaged by pests and diseases that they are not equipped to fight off. This can lead to having to replace costly plants, purchase costly pest or disease control products, and the like. Many native plants are equipped to repel harmful pests and will not succumb to diseases nearly as easily as non-native plants.


Xeriscapes Last Longer

Due to the fact that many hardscape elements are included in most xeric landscapes, as well as the fact that all the plants used in a xeric landscape are more capable of growing and thriving in our arid environment, your landscape will last much longer. Hardscape features can take years on end to wear out and native plants will grow healthier and stronger, adding to the longevity of your landscape.


Xeriscapes Are Better for the Environment

Most traditional landscapes use plants that are not native to our arid Colorado environment, meaning that many of us try to force plants to grow where it is not natural for them to grow. They require fertilizers to help them grow and pesticides to help protect them from damage, which both are costly and introduce chemicals into our air, soil, and water. Since native plants are accustomed to and even prefer our environment, they require much less help in terms of chemical products and are much more self-sufficient.


Xeriscapes Help Encourage a Natural Environment

Planting native plants in your landscape is also helpful for attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and all sorts of other indigenous wildlife. This is because many native plants are pollinator-friendly. So, including native plants in your xeriscape helps pollinators by providing them with nectar, is beneficial for the pollination of other plants growing nearby, and also benefits you, as attracting such creatures to your yard allows you to enjoy watching the wonders of nature right in your own backyard.


Check out this before and after photo of a xeric landscape that was designed and installed by Bath Landscape and Irrigation:


Learn More About Xeriscaping!

We hope you have found this information helpful and inspirational! If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to reach out! And if you want to discover more species of plants that would make good additions to your xeriscape landscape, don't forget to check out our Plant Finder! And if you have a solid idea of what you would like to do in your own yard, reach out to our landscape design specialists to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards designing and creating your very own xeric landscape.