The Ultimate Guide To Xeriscaping


While the garden design world is often filled with fads and buzzwords that often soon disappear, xeriscaping is an old concept reworked – and seems set to stay. 

For many parts of Australia, water has long been a hot commodity. After a particularly wet winter and spring in 2016 over much of the nation, conditions turned dry in 2017 and stayed that way until early 2020. In contrast, the current La Niña weather pattern that we are now experiencing has had the opposite effect, with large areas of Queensland and New South Wales receiving once in a century levels of rainfall. 

Regardless of what the sky is doing, building a garden that isn’t overly reliant on water has a wide range of benefits on offer for those willing to put in the work. Every week, Australia’s thirsty gardens command around fifteen litres of water per square metre in order to remain healthy and functional. 

Even if you live in an area that doesn’t traditionally struggle with water shortages, this commitment can increase the property owner’s water bill by up to 30%. While it may seem like plain old common sense for many Aussie gardeners, the philosophy now has a name: xeriscaping. 

The Six Fundamentals Of Xeriscaping 

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, xeriscaping is a term that refers to any landscaping technique that purposefully aims at conserving water through a unique and creative design process. In fact, the very word is derived from ‘xeros’ – meaning dry in Greek. 

Despite its European name, the origin of xeriscaping can actually be traced back to the United States. In 1981, the president of a landscaping association in Colorado began a program to teach the public that it was possible to have an attractive landscape and also conserve water. That man was Jim Grabow, who went on to study rainfall, water runoff and evaporation in his area. 

Grabow and his team then built a demonstration garden with a stunning landscape that needed almost no supplemental watering. Nancy Leavitt, one of Grabow’s colleagues, combined the Greek word xeros with the word landscape, and introduced xeriscaping to the wider gardening community on a global scale. 

While some landscapers incorporate decorative stones and succulents into a landscape and call it xeriscaping, true water conservation based landscaping goes far beyond this. In fact, the six key principles of xeriscaping are considered to be the following.  

Water Conserving Design – When creating a garden that follows the basics of xeriscaping, a landscape designer or gardener must take into account local rainfall, the lay of the land and how water is going to runoff. In order to create an effective xeriscape design, the average temperatures and how they affect evaporation must also be considered into the plan.

Soil Amendment – Plants that need less water such as succulents occasionally need sand or fine gravel in the soil, while many other drought-tolerant plants require high levels of organic matter to help hold humidity near their roots. As such, studying the soil conditions and adjusting it to fit the plants that are going to be used is another important component of xeriscaping. 

Appropriate Hydrozones – Every piece of land has distinct shady and sunny areas, as well as sections that hold more or less water. Landscapers should use this information to create hydrozones that will allow a xeriscape to fit into the natural environment. When adding plants to a xeriscape style garden, it’s important to consider the “zones” of the space for each plant type. 

Covering Open Ground – Open ground is public enemy number one for any xeriscape, as these areas constantly lose water through evaporation. As such, it’s important to cover these patches with thick layers of organic mulch such as bark or wood chops, and even coverings such as plastic sheets or decorative stones if required. 

Smart Use Of Turf – In a regular garden, the lawn is often regarded as the thirstiest part of the green space, and is renowned for causing the most evaporation. While xeriscaping doesn’t remove the lawn entirely, it can involve limiting the size of it or planting native grasses that require less watering as opposed to important species that aren’t as hardy. 

Efficient Watering – Experienced landscapers are able to design a xeriscape that takes advantage of rainfall and only needs a little supplemental watering. The best way to water a xeriscape is to water deeply and infrequently to encourage the plants to develop deep roots and never water in the heat of the day to prevent evaporation.

Ultimately, the more you’re able to encourage a self-sufficient and sustainable ecosystem in your garden via xeriscaping, the happier your plants will be. However, sometimes your flora friends may need a little extra help in fending off unwanted invaders, but that doesn’t mean resorting to pesticides that may have negative consequences on the health of your soil, plants, and even local wildlife – so what’s the alternative?

Embrace The Safer Way To Spray  

Spending time outside and in the garden is not only good for our overall well being, but it’s also an easy way to start educating yourself on the importance of sustainability. 

If you’re noticing foreign invaders popping up in your garden, a naturally produced weed killer like Bioweed is a safe way to keep them under control. As a non-residual solution, it will break down into the soil in as little as 72 hours and can combat over 200 invasive weed species, making it safe for you, your family, your pets, and your local native wildlife to navigate. 

Bioweed is the brainchild of well established agricultural leader Greenpro, and is backed by over twenty years of research and development. Owned and manufactured in Australia, the primary ingredient of Bioweed is actually sustainably sourced pine oil, and is even approved by NASAA, ACO and APVMA for use around organic farms and food production.

If you’re on the hunt for a natural weed killer, more organic gardening solutions, or simply want to know more about eliminating weeds safely, check out other tips and tricks in our online advice forum, or contact us for any further queries.