Gardening full time is a great way to relax, then enjoy the fruits of your labor. But there are still those who have a hard time gardening or don’t want to bother going outdoors and enjoy their landscape area. Whether you have too much going on at work or too many kids to take care of, you should never garden if you don’t think you can handle it. So, what can someone do to fix this problem? Easy…you find plants and trees that do not require a whole lot of attention, water and care. In this article “Xeriscape landscaping ideas” will hopefully help you decide what type of plants to use.
Many large plants and or trees become drought tolerant simply by its growth. Once the root system gets large enough it will find water on its own. Mainly via the water table below the ground.
Is it Xeriscape or Zero-Scape?
Do not confuse Xeriscaping with Zero-scaping. This landscape concept is basically just rocks nothing else. If focuses on a yard with gravel, or lava rock. This requires absolutely no maintenance whatsoever. But you will have a hard time explaining this type of landscape to City/County code officials. It’s important to note that if you live within the city limits civil codes does require so many plants per sq ft. for commercial or residential buildings.
What is Xeriscaping
Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It is promoted in regions that do not have easily accessible, plentiful, or reliable supplies of fresh water, and is gaining acceptance in other areas as access to water becomes more limited. Xeriscaping may be an alternative to various types of traditional gardening. Read more.
This post is for those who want easy care, low water, and low maintenance yard. I would recommend Xeriscaping.
Many people think Xeriscaping is basically cactus, sandy soil, and dry-looking plants. This is partly true, however, with the right plants, it can be a colorful landscape design. It is a great method of having a great looking yard or garden, without having to maintain it or water it very often at all.
Xeriscape landscaping ideas
Here in the southwest where drought conditions are prevalent, many local nurseries offer xeriscaping plants. In addition to nurseries, most landscaping designers or maintenance companies will help you design a xeriscape garden or yard.
There are also some good xeriscape classes online to help you find and get the right kind of help. For instance, Colorado Spring Utilities has some great resources to help you. Here is that link. Xeriscape Basics. NMSU has a plethora of online help. Here is their link. Xeriscape Plants.
Drought Tolerant Plant Photos
Here are some plants and photos to help you decide what would work in your area.
Red Tip Yucca – (Hesperaloe parviflora) Nice colorful red tip blooms during spring. They do fade away during mid summer months. Used them in and around rock landscape. Moderate watering during the first 2 years of planting.
Chamisa or RabbitBush (Ericameria nauseosa) Easy care yellow RabbitBush or Chamisa. The blooms will come out in about September and will bloom until late fall. Prune this plant back in early spring for some great fall color.
Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) – Is a low water plant. That will survive in the southwest desert with the small amount of rainfall during the monsoon seasons. The leaves are small about the size of a nickel. They produce beautiful bright orange blooms in mid-spring. Perfect for that corner spot to keep animals and people off your property. For faster growth water more often. Do not add to water drip system as too much water will make this plant develop root rot.
Texas Sages (Leucophyllum) The Heavenly Cloud sage below. The one on top is trimmed as a hedge. The one on the bottom is left alone to grow as a large shrub. Blooms usually occur during the rainy season in and around the Southwest.
Colorful Cactus for landscape design
There are literally thousands of species and sub-species of cacti. Below are the common yellow flowering cactus, Cholla, Barrel cactus. The blooms are a spectacular purple color. They will bloom mainly in mid-spring through early summer seasons. You only need to water at the time of planting. Do not use a drip or sprinkler system on the cactus. They will survive with the little rainwater we get here in the southwest.
Agave (Agave americana) There are hundreds or varieties. The most common one is pictured below. Also, known as “The Century Plant” because it takes forever for the plume to shoot out and when it does it will look spectacular then tip over and fall. That is ok because the plant will look good for well…a century?
Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus); Perfect for full sun blooms throughout the spring season. Not so much during the mid summer months.
Spanish Broom – (Spartium junceum) Also called Weaver’s broom. This plant thrives in dry hot conditions and tolerates poor soils. It will get about 6-8 ft tall and about 4 ft wide. Nice bright yellow very fragrant blooms in midsummer.
Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa) Drought tolerant southwestern plant. A native southwestern plant with small white flowers resembling single rose bloom. After bloom expires it turns into a fluffy white seed head. A hardy tuff plant that will grow to about 6 ft. wide and 8 ft. tall.
Yuccas for Desert landscape
Variegated Spanish Dagger (Yucca gloriosa ‘Variegata’) A great looking Yucca with rigid variegated fronds and can be planted in full sun or in a container as shown below.
Yucca’s (Yucca elata) – Can be used for xeriscape landscape. Use them in rock gardens or desert landscape design. Drought tolerant and very little water. Beautiful spiky blooms in mid summer. They will fall so there is some maintenance involved after spikes fall on the ground.
Blue Yucca – Another great looking Yucca plant them in the ground or in a container. Lower water and very little maintenance.
Xeriscape landscaping ideas – Oleanders
Oleanders (Nerium) – Many people do not like these plants but I love them. Oleanders are drought tolerant after they get established. Typically around the 3rd year after planting. Great flowering color all mid-spring till about mid-summer. The white, pink and red oleanders are the most common. They will grow to about 15-20 ft. fall and wide. You can also trim them into a small colorful tree. They require little to no water once it has been established. Makes a great screen or border plant.
Flowering Lantana Plants
Lantana’s (Verbenaceae) lantanas are in the verbena family. They do require lots of water the first 2-3 years after planting but only need occasional watering after they are established. It is advisable to trim down to root system during the winter seasons. Cover with mulch or burlap to keep the roots from freezing. Some folks manage to make this plant into a small patio tree. See image below.
Trees that require little water
Mesquite Tree (Prosopis glandulosa) Is a fast growing desert tree. It is deciduous and will produce sweet edible bean pods. This means some maintenance involved after pods fall on the ground.
Palo Verde Tree (Cercidium floridum) Is a great looking yellow flowering tree, deciduous. The bark of the branches and trunk are a green color thus the Spanish name “Palo Verde” translates to – Green Stick in English. Needs moderate watering during the first 2-3 years after planting. It will grow to about 15-20 ft fall and 30 ft. wide. A great shade tree for the southwest.
Afghan Pine (Pinus eldarica) A fast growing desert pine tree. Also called the Mondell pine, Eldarica Pine, and Desert Christmas tree pine. It will within time grow to about 50-60ft. tall and 20 ft. wide. It requires little to no water after it’s 3rd year in the ground. Use them as a border wall or windscreen. Trim the bottom branches for a nice evergreen shade tree. They do produce lots of pine needles and pine cones. This will require maintenance throughout the spring season.
Author: Paul Guzman
Paul Guzman – General Manager of Guzman’s Greenhouse. Gardener, Husband, Father and Grandfather. Webmaster of Guzmansgreenhouse.com