Is xeric landscaping the answer to your dry garden woes?

If you find it hard to maintain your dry garden, xeric landscaping, or ‘xeriscaping’, could be the gardening concept for you. But what exactly is it?

What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping: A botanical garden with drought tolerant plants

Xeriscaping comes from the Greek xeros meaning ‘dry’, merged with the word ‘landscaping’. It’s a style of garden landscaping which is tailored to dry areas – whether that’s through drought or water conservation.

This type of landscaping can help you conserve water, but also save you time and money! It encourages logical practices which still allow you to have the fantastic plants you want – but without the drama and worry.

A few of these practices include:

  • Grouping plants of similar water requirements together
  • Reducing the amount of lawn grass in your garden
  • Bulking out your garden with drought tolerant plants

Which plants can I use for xeriscaping?

You might think that a dry garden is limited only to typical, prickly, bland desert plants – but you’d be wrong. However, you should aim for the bulk of your garden to be made up of plants with low water requirements, and which also suit the climate of the area in which your garden is located. You need to consider both these points, as a plant which requires little water in the UK will likely need far more water in a hotter, drier country.

Xeriscaping: Drought tolerant plants

With that in mind, here are a few drought tolerant trees, shrubs and flowers which you might consider planting in your garden:

Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii

Erigeron karvinskianus

Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’

Yucca filamentosa

Red maple tree

For an extended list of dry garden-friendly plants, read this post.

Should I get rid of my lawn?

Xeriscaping: Bench with flowers

If your garden experiences the kind of drought that leave your grass gasping for water each year, then it may be more time and cost effective to reduce or completely remove your lawn area.

Instead of a grassy lawn, you may consider:

  • Installing a patio or decking area or extending one you may already have
  • Laying down mulch, gravel or bark
  • Replacing grass with ground-covering plants like ground phlox, thyme or chamomile
  • Considering (shock horror) and an artificial, sustainable lawn
  • Going all out and creating a rock garden with compact growth-friendly plants such as hens and chicks, wood spurge and pasqueflower
Gravel Garden at Beth Chatto
Gravel Garden at Beth Chatto – © Copyright Pam Fray and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Gravel Garden created by the late Beth Chatto is an excellent example of how gardens can still look elegant without lawns. Previously a car park, the garden was set up by Beth and her team, initially as an experiment, to see if her famous philosophy of ‘right plant, right place’ could really apply to any location. 

The repurposing of the car park took place, and what emerged was a beautiful garden of drought tolerant plants, thriving in one of the driest regions of the UK. The most unique aspect of this garden is that it’s never watered – the plants rely only on rainfall to receive their dose of H2O.  Why not take a leaf out of their book and try this for yourself?

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