Xeriscaping means using native and adaptive plants that can grow and sustain themselves with low water requirements and tolerate heat and drought conditions. This does not translate to the use of cacti and thorny succulents but includes ornamental grasses, adaptive perennials, and any plant that can grow well on it's own in stressful environmental conditions without supplemental care.
A xeriscape offers a huge variety of design alternatives that add visual interest to your landscape without sacrificing color, texture, and structure - the same basic criteria used in any landscape design. Your limit is how far your imagination can take you. You can have fun going whimsical with a xeriscape.
The advantages of Xeriscaping include:
> Substantial cost savings on water bills
> Conservation of diminishing water resources during drought periods
> Prevention of pollution of surface and ground water, from environmentally harmful runoff.
> Provide a durable landscape with reduced yard maintenance
> Pride in knowing you are doing something substantial to protect our fragile environment.
Non-turf areas can contain a decomposed granite, ground hardwood mulch, crushed limestone, flagstone, or loose stone material for a ground cover that is maintained to prevent weed growth without using toxic or environmentally harmful chemicals. Concrete surfaces should be limited to driveways and sidewalks only as concrete surfaces promote runoff. Use plants adapted to the the pH created by your choice of inorganic ground cover - e.g. don't use a plant requiring acidic soil with an alkaline ground limestone surface.
Hardscapes can include large boulders, dry river rock beds, or other natural materials that are used as part of xeriscape landscaping design. water features, urns, large ornamental planters, and other man-made ornamentation can add variety. For public safety, no boulders or large rocks exceeding 12” should be used on strips between public sidewalks and the street curb. Also for public safety, no plant with thorns, spines, or sharp edges should be used within 6’ of the public sidewalks for public safety.
Perennials which die back during winter should be cut back to remove dead materials during winter. This includes ornamental grasses and other flowering perennials. Xeriphytic landscapes should contain a balance of evergreen plants with deciduous.
If you have narrow strips of turf between sidewalk and street, you should seriously consider converting those “nuisance strips” from turf grasses to xeriphitic areas as these areas are difficult to water without significant street runoff.
In the Southwest (including Texas), xeriscapes can blend with the natural environment easily by duplicating them to some degree. It involves taking elements of the natural environment and providing structure and organization to it, the materials being the same. Use of xeriphytic landscapes in these dry, hot, and arid regions is a critically necessary as water supplies are limited and often stressed to the limit.