Xeriscaping: Landscaping with the natural beauty of Texas

July 10, 2020

Conserve water and capture natural beauty of Texas with xeriscaping


Landscaping with native and adapted Texas plants to conserve water.

In Texas, we all expect that our electric bill will go up as we crank the AC to combat the summer heat. But have you ever been surprised by your water bill? Our lawns and gardens often make up a huge portion of the water we use each year to keep them looking healthy. But what if there was a way to have a beautiful yard without having to constantly water it? That's where xeriscaping comes in handy! Today, we'll show you can add natural Texas beauty to your landscaping projects while conserving water.

What is xeriscaping?


Xeriscaping (pronounced zeer-i-scape) is a method of landscaping designed with water conservation in mind. The term "xeriscape" comes from the Greek word "xeric" which means dry. 

In general, this method utilizes natives plants, drought resistant plants, and careful planning to create beautiful, efficient landscapes. 

The benefits of xeriscaping


So what are the benefits of xeriscaping? Why would you choose this method over more traditional styles? Let's take a look. 

Water conservation. Much of the water we use on our lawns and gardens is never actually absorbed by the plants, but is instead lost to runoff and evaporation. Additionally, many plants and grasses often used in landscaping, such as St. Augustine grass, aren't native to Texas and need to be watered frequently.

By planting drought-resistant plants, and plants the grow naturally in your area, you can usually maintain your yard without having to frequently water beyond what naturally falls as precipitation. 

While Texas is a large place with various climates, the average annual rainfall is around 21 inches. However, in drier years, it can be as low as 14.8 inches. During droughts, it's important to conserve water for essential purposes, such as drinking and cooking, and some communities may put restrictions on lawn care. If you've designed your yard according to xeriscaping practices, your yard will likely be alive and well despite the lack of rainfall. 

Reduce water bills. In Texas, the average percentage of total water use dedicated to lawn care can be as high as 40%! That means that every year, a huge portion of your water utility bill goes towards keeping your lawn alive. In addition to conserving the water supply in your area, xeriscaping is a great way to save some cash, especially during the summer months. 

Less maintenance. Keeping a beautiful lawn requires more than just frequent watering - it takes a lot of maintenance, too! Because xeriscaping often replaces large grass yards with other landscaping options, such as mulch, crushed granite, and gravel, the time it takes to mow your grass can be drastically reduced. 

Furthermore, many natural and drought-resistant plants, such as cacti, succulents, and yucca, don't require nearly as much pruning and trimming. While spending time in your garden can definitely be an enjoyable pastime, a yard carefully planned with xeriscaping in mind can ensure you only do the lawn work you enjoy.  

Natural Texas beauty. Texas is a beautiful place, filled with all sorts of wonderful, unique plants and natural features. With xeriscaping, you can harness your favorite Texas elements and bring them to your home where you can enjoy them every day!

What's the difference between xeriscaping and zeroscaping?


You may have heard the term "zeroscaping" used interchangeably with xeriscaping. However, the two are not the same! Zeroscaping is a play on words, but takes the concepts of xeriscaping and pushes them to the extreme. 

Rather than a mixture of mulch beds and grass, this method covers most or all of the yard with gravel, rocks, or other types of dirt. While some plants and shrubs may be added, the idea is to create a yard that requires absolutely no maintenance or water. This is, of course, where the "zero" in "zeroscaping" comes from. 

As you can imagine, zeroscaping is a very simplistic design that requires very little planning, if any. While it may not be appealing for most Texas homes, it can be a fairly useful design for homes in extremely dry regions, like a desert, where rainfall is rare and water is in short supply. 

Xeriscaping in Texas

Planning and preparation 


Landscaping design takes a lot of planning, and xeriscaping is no different! However, every great yard starts with great ideas.

Take some time to look into the wide variety of native and adapted Texas plants, and make a list of what you'd like to include in your yard. Then, you can start sketching your design ideas if you feel up to it, or simply start an image collection with your favorite concepts from around the internet or in magazines. 

Unless you have ample experience designing landscapes, you'll probably want to work with a professional. They can take your sketches and ideas and help you make it a reality. Either way, the more references you have prepared, the easier it will be to communicate your vision and see it come to life!

Flowers


Texas Lantana. These flowers range from orange to yellow and form in small clusters. They can grow fairly large, but they are wonderful for attracting butterflies!

Black-eyed Susan. Another butterfly favorite, Black-eyed Susans are yellow flowers that resemble daisies. 

Texas Bluebonnets. The Texas state flower is a wonderful, natural landscaping choice! While they die off each year, they'll leave behind seeds and come back in the spring. 

Shrubs and small trees


Mountain Laurel. These shrubs are slow growing, but require very little water to maintain. They bloom with lovely purple flowers that have an almost delicious fragrance, similar to grape bubblegum!

Yaupon. Yaupon and Yaupon Holly are evergreen and can do well in the shade, and can get quite large if left to grow. While their small red berries are poisonous, their leaves actually contain caffeine

Texas Sage. Sage shrubs are known for their purple flowers, which often bloom following rain. 

Crape Myrtle. Depending on the variety, Crape Myrtles can grow from a shrub-like size to a fairly large tree. They are known for their white, pink, and purple blossoms and their tolerance for Texas climates. 

Succulents and cacti


Prickly pear cacti. These native cacti can produce beautiful blumes and bright purple fruit, which provide pollen and food to local wildlife. If you're worried about their needles, you can find them in spineless varieties. If you can carefully remove the ripe fruit, it's actually quite delicious! 

Agave. Agave have thick, sharp leaves and come in a range of colors. Rather than reproducing by flowering, these plants produce "pups," which are little offshoots that break through the ground from the roots. 

Yucca. These have long, thin blade-like leaves, which can be sharp and require some room to grow. However, they produce tall flowering stalks and fragrant, white flowers that pollinators love. 

Grasses


Buffalograss. This grass and its many varieties are well suited to climates that receive less than 25 inches of rain annually. 

Zoysiagrass. Zoysiagrass is yet another grass variety with low to medium water requirements. Because it can spread with rhizomes and stolons (often called runners), it can grow quite thick and is best started from sod. 

These are just a few of the hundreds of native and drought-resistant plants you can use to decorate your yard with xeriscaping. For an extensive guide to native and adapted plants for Texas, check out this document from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Agaves in a bed of gravel, practicing xeriscaping.

Great landscaping can turn a house into a beautiful home, and Germania Insurance can help you protect it! Request a free online quote or reach out to one of our trusted agents today!

Read more: Compost is another great way to reduce waste and give an extra boost to your yard! Read our blog and learn the basics!

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Specialist at Germania Insurance.