How to create a beautiful, low-water-use landscape

Most Valley homeowners use about 70% of their household water outdoors. Here in the Valley, we receive about 8 inches of rainfall in an average year. With so little rain, it makes sense to landscape with low-water-use plants. Low-water-use plants have unique features that help them survive and thrive in our arid state. Xeriscape is the landscaping method developed for hot climates like ours that uses water-conserving techniques.

7 principles of xeriscape

  1. Create a plan that will help you get the most out of your landscape.
    Consider cost, function, aesthetics, maintenance requirements, water use
    and energy efficiency.
  2. Plant low-water-use plants. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
    They also serve purposes from adding shade and seasonal color to screening
    unsightly areas.
  3. Incorporate turf areas appropriately. Sometimes only grass will do. Small turf areas
    can be incorporated successfully with proper planning, installation and maintenance.
  4. Irrigate efficiently. Plant trees, shrubs, ground covers and turf areas each
    on different valves so you can time their irrigations separately. Adjust your irrigation
    schedule at least four times a year.
  5. Consider soil improvements. Because there is quite a variation in soil quality and
    composition across the Sonoran Desert, soil amendments may be needed when unusual
    conditions exist.
  6. Use mulch. Mulch covers the soil and reduces evaporation. It cools the soil beneath and helps to inhibit weak growth and erosion.
  7. Properly maintain your xeriscape to save water, time and money. A well-maintained irrigation system can keep plants healthy and water use low.

Learn about plants

Inspire your landscape makeover by touring a xeriscape demonstration garden to see creative designs and mature plants. Better yet, take a garden tour on our landscape website.

  • Consider the size of the plant as it matures. A plant that outgrows the space available will require pruning and may crowd nearby plants.
  • Consider color and texture. Some plants bloom almost all year, and others display color only once or twice each year. Choose plants with a variety of foliage colors that blend well. For year-round color, choose a mix of plants that bloom during different seasons.
  • Include plants that attract wildlife, such as butterflies, hummingbirds and other beautiful bird species.
  • Keep poisonous plants and plants with thorns away from walkways and play areas.
  • Keep plants that drop spent flowers, leaves or seedpods away from the pool area.

Save even more

Water is one of our most precious resources. The more we do, the more we’ll save.

  • Water between sunset and sunrise, when temperatures and wind speeds are the lowest.
  • Group plants with similar watering needs in the same area.
  • Add mulch and compost to the soil to minimize evaporation and help the soil absorb and store water.
  • Adjust sprinklers to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.
  • Be sure to fix leaks promptly no matter how small they may seem.