Xeriscaping is a term that means landscaping designed to withstand droughts and conserve water. The practice involves the use of native and water-efficient plants.
Before creating a xeriscape, you'll want to analyze your existing yard and landscaping to determine which areas need the most attention. Where does water naturally gather? Which areas are naturally dry? You'll classify these zones into three groups: arid, transition, and oasis. These classifications will help you choose which plants are best suited for certain areas of the yard.
Arid zones will typically be left alone and in their natural state. Oasis zones are typically closer to the house, where they may benefit from rainfall runoff from the roof and gutters. Transition zones are, of course, where these areas meet.
Xeriscaping requires a reduction of grass, putting or keeping it only where you need it. When you decide where you'd like it, consider the kind of grass you'll need. Grasses like Buffalo conserve water, but can't handle a lot of foot traffic. Kentucky Bluegrass is hardy, but requires plenty of water to keep its green color.
Drip irrigation systems will be your best choice for conservation, reducing your water consumption up to 60% over a traditional sprinkler system. If you must use a sprinkler, analyze the amount of water your yard is receiving and adjust watering times accordingly. Your new yard will be able to handle a little less watering.
Native plants are standard choices in xeriscaping, but you can also look to areas of the country and world with similar climates. And even if you are choosing drought-tolerant plants, it may take a year or two before they are able to truly handle a dry season. You'll still need to water regularly and deeply until they've established roots.
Mulch is crucial to xeriscaping. By covering the ground with mulch, you'll minimize water evaporation and keep weeds at bay.