If you're looking to landscape your garden in a way that is both beautiful and drought tolerant, xeriscaping may be the perfect solution for you. Xeriscaping is a style of landscaping that is designed to use as little water as possible, making it an ideal choice for areas where rainfall is scarce or irrigation costs are high.
While xeriscaping can be used to create any type of garden, succulents make an excellent choice for this type of landscape design. With their variety of colors and textures, succulents can add interest and beauty to any outdoor area. If you're planning on building a new garden or relandscaping your current one, follow these tips to create a xeriscape masterpiece!
Tip #1: Draft Your Plans
Before you start planting, it's helpful to create a sketch or plan of your garden. This will allow you to determine how many and what types of plants you'll need. It's also a good way to experiment with different plant placement and design ideas.
During this process, it's a good idea to consider the types of soil, rocks or pebbles, planters and pots, and any other kinds of materials and accessories that will help you craft your new garden. Xeriscaping generally involves replacing any turf grass that requires lots of irrigation with ground cover plants and/or dirt, sand, stone, or loose gravel. Planning for these types of changes will help you start to lay the foundation for your xeriscape haven.
Tip #2: Choose the Right Plants
When selecting plants for your xeriscape, it's important to choose those that are native to your area or that are known to be drought tolerant. This will ensure that your plants are able to thrive in your climate with minimal water and care. You can also lookup your hardiness zone to determine which types of plants will thrive in your location based on their specific climate needs, regardless of whether they are actually native to that region.
There is a wide variety of drought-tolerant succulents (too many to list in full here) that can thrive in most xeriscaped gardens provided that they receive the proper amount of sunlight and warmth. You can skip ahead to the end of this post to see a few examples of some of our favorite succulents fit for xeriscaping. Otherwise, you can rely on the following simple characteristics of their leaves for determining which succulents will be able to thrive with very little watering.
- Thick, Greyish, Waxy, Oily, Small, Vertical/Pointy
If the leaves of the succulents you're considering planting have any of the qualities listed above, then they are likely drought-tolerant.
Another way to choose the appropriate drought-tolerant plants for your xeriscaping venture is to look at their genus. A genus is a biological classification that groups certain species together. Most of the time, plants within the same genus have fairly similar physical characteristics as well as light and water requirements. Here are just a few succulent genuses that are typically known to thrive in low-irrigation landscapes.
- And most types of cacti (family: Cactaceae)
Tip #3: Consider the Sun
Another important factor to consider when xeriscaping is the amount of sunlight that your garden receives. This will help you determine which plants will do best in your space. For example, if you have a shady garden, succulents that require full sun will not do well.
More often than not, however, gardeners mistakenly place succulents in areas with too much afternoon sun. This type of direct sunlight puts a strain on most plants and despite their hardiness, many drought-tolerant succulents will become stressed and dried out due to high sun exposure. It's important to research each plant's lighting and temperature requirements before deciding to put them in your xeriscape plans.
As a general rule of thumb, plants that come from desert regions are used to high temperatures and full sun while those from mountainous or forest regions can do well in shady areas. You can also leverage the height of certain desert plants like cacti to produce shade for nearby succulents that do better with less midday sun. This is where planning the placement and grouping of your plants is key to a successful xeriscape garden.
Tip #4: Use Mulch
When you're finished planting your xeriscape garden, it's important to fill in any empty spaces with mulch, ground cover plants, or decorative stones and gravel. This will help prevent weeds from growing and will also give your garden a polished look. You can find xeriscape-appropriate mulch at most gardening stores or online.
Mulching is an important part of xeriscaping because it helps to retain moisture in the soil. This is especially important in hot, dry climates where water evaporates quickly. You can also layer decorative covering like stones or garden accessories on top of the mulch for additional sun protection and/or aesthetic reasons.
Xeriscaping is Gardening for the Future
By following these xeriscaping tips, you can create a beautiful, drought-tolerant garden that will be easy to care for, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly. Plus, utilizing native plants adds additional benefits for the pollinators and other critters that likely call your garden home.
And as promised, here are some of our best-selling drought-tolerant succulents to get you started on your xeriscape journey. Good luck!