Dry Land Gardening A Xeriscaping Approach

by Hobbies

Xeriscaping favors conservation of water and saves time, energy and other resources. It is about selecting plants that thrive in the scarcity of water supply.

Xeriscaping is a gardening approach that favors not only water conservation but also saves time, energy and other resources. It is most suited for areas where the summers are hot and prone to periods of drought, and where the winters are snowy one week and freezing rain the next week. Dry land gardens are bright and more open and with a predominance of ground covers and ornamental grasses.

The Al Norris Memorial Xeriscape Garden In Wichita Falls, Texas

Xeriscape garden
Xeriscape garden
by Michael Barera CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Dos and Don'ts and benefits of Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is about selecting plants that can thrive in the landscape with as little supplemental water as possible. 

Dos and Don'ts of Xeriscaping:


  • Use perennial flowers in closed groups.
  • Install drip irrigation.
  • Group plants by their watering and light requirements.


  • Do not overplant woody shrubs. They can develop a crooked or irregular growth when crowded.
  • Do not be afraid to keep a small patch of land.
  • Do not skimp on your soil preparation.

In a dryland garden, every drop of water is regarded as precious. The benefits of this approach include a lowered consumption of water, reduced maintenance, less cost to maintain (though the initial cost of installation can be high). Moreover, this approach is environment safe with reduced waste and pollution.


Dryland Gardening: Plants that Survive and Thrive in Tough Conditions

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Xeriscape plant list

Below mentioned plants can thrive in whatever little water available for gardening, and provide an exquisite landcover in harsh climatic conditions:

  1. Evergreen trees: Acacia, Peppermint, Cyprus, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Olive, and Pine.
  2. Deciduous trees: Desert Willow, Pomegranate, Oak, Chaste tree.
  3. Western native shrubs: Bearberry, Brittlebush, Purple sage, Yellow bells.
  4. Flowering shrubs: Blue hibiscus, Lavender.

A dry land garden can be irrigated by hand or with an automatic sprinkler system. Spray, drip line or bubbler emitters are best suited for watering trees, shrubs, flowers and ground cover.

Organic matter increases the water holding capacity of the soil. You can add peat moss and compost by digging it in, or simply use a mulch to allow microbes, the minute bacteria, to dig deep inside the soil and assist in retaining water. Mulch reduces soil moisture evaporation, protects from the sun and the wind, cools the soil by shading during the summer heat, and evens out the soil temperature. As it decomposes,  It also adds organic matter to the soil. At least 3-4 inches deep mulch is recommended.

Plants suited for Xeriscaping


Methods to retain water in dryland gardens

  1. Winter barriers: Much winter precipitation is lost, as the snow from unprotected fields often drifts along the fence lines, and in coulees and tree thickets. If winter barriers are placed along the path of prevailing winds to hold the snow in the garden area, then this source of soil moisture could become a valuable asset.
  2. Shelterbelts: Well established shrub hedges trap much of the drifting snow. Spruce trees are especially good shelter belts, as they provide year-round protection. In the absence of trees or hedges, temporary barriers such as snow fences and straw bales will trap the snow effectively on the garden. Corn and sunflower stalks are good for stopping the drifting snow, and should be left standing if planted around the garden area. During the growing season, these shelterbelts are valuable in breaking the force of strong, dry winds. They also restrict soil drifting and enclose the garden in a warm atmosphere desirable for early plant growth.
  3. Dikes: Temporary dikes made in the fall are useful in holding water from the melting snow on the garden until the frost is out of the ground. An effective dike is a ridge of soil, 10 to 12 inches high, placed along the sides and the lower end of the garden. Ridges of strawy manure or closely laid straw bales sealed on the waterside with soil or snow make excellent water barriers. On sharply sloping land, several dikes thrown across the garden slope may be required to hold water effectively.

Reference sources:





Updated: 01/05/2016, Hobbies
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