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Xeriscape Gardening

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Cherry St median bed 2

What is xeriscape? 

Xeriscape (pronounced ZEER-i-scape) is a water-efficient or water-wise approach to creating an attractive and sustainable landscape; based on seven sound gardening principles. 

  • Plan and design for water conservation, beauty and use from the beginning of the process.
  • Limit turf areas to manageable sizes and shapes. Use appropriate grasses or turf alternatives.
  • Improve the soil with compost or manure, if necessary. Most of our native plants do not require a lot of compost.
  • Use low-water plants and group according to similar water needs. This is known as hydrozoning.
  • Irrigate efficiently with well-designed systems. Apply the correct amount of water at the right time.
  • Consider using mulches, such as wood chips, to reduce evaporation; especially in moderate and high water zones.
  • Maintain your landscape appropriately – mow, weed, prune and fertilize properly. 

Xeriscape: what it is NOT: (Jim Knoff, Landscape Architect from Boulder Colorado, corrects the following misconceptions) 

  • Xeriscape is NOT dry only. Even though dry-only landscaping can be very colorful and lush, limited areas of highly-watered landscape are completely consistent with wise water use, if the return justifies it.
  • Xeriscape is NOT just rocks and gravel. Although dry (xeric) rock gardens can be marvelous, there are many other wonderful choices for the xeric portions of Xeriscape designs.
  • Xeriscape is NOT necessarily lawnless landscaping. Some lawn area can be consistent with wise water use. Let’s call it “less-lawn landscaping”.
  • Xeriscape is NOT about native plants only. Although there is a vast array of regional native plants to choose from, non-invasive introduced plants which are well adapted to our climate are great additions to waterwise landscaping.



  • Waterwise Landscaping with Trees, Shrubs and Vines by Jim Knopf
  • Xeriscape Flower Gardener by Jim Knopf
  • Xeriscape Plant Guide by Denver Water