Designing a Drought-tolerant
Landscape and Garden
Basic principles of xeriscaping
How to Design and Implement
Plants and Practical Information
UCCE Master Gardeners of Trinity County
What is Xeriscaping?
“The term ‘xeriscape’ was coined by the Denver Water Department in
Colorado. The Principle behind xeriscaping is to create a landscape that
thrives without supplemental irrigation.” Anne Schellman, Water-Wise
Xeriscape is a registered trademark of the National Xeriscape Council ~
defined as “horticulture that emphasizes water conservation.”
Derived from the Greek word xeros, which means dry.
7 Basic Principles of Waterwise Landscaping
• Water conservation
• Minimize turf areas
• Efficient irrigation
• Proper maintenance
• Make appropriate plant selection for
the climate where you live
• Mediterranean climate plants are
suited to much of California ~
Cool wet winters, dry hot summers
• Trinity County is Zone 7 ~
Typical winter lows 20° to 90F.
Record lows 15 to -10F.
Optimal growing season May through
the first week of October.
• Soil Drainage
• Hydro-zoning plants with similar water needs
What’s my soil type and why do I care?
• Soil amended with compost and high in organic matter
will absorb and hold water better than poor soils. This
allows plant roots to penetrate deeper deeper where
they can utilize additional water and nutrients
• Understand the relationship between soil and plants
• Soil composition is important
– Loamy Sand is 1st to warm up in spring, water and nutrients move through
– Loam contains 5-10% organic matter, provides excellent mixture of sand, silt
and clay for gardening.
– Clay Loam holds onto water and nutrients longer than sandy soils.
– Clay restricts movement of water, air and nutrients.
• A 2-4” layer of organic mulch can provide many
benefits: water retention, weed reduction, erosion
• Shredded bark, grass clippings, and compost are
• Inorganic mulches include stone, cloth and plastic.
Proper way to mulch a tree
Minimize Turf Areas
• Lawns require large amounts of
water, fertilizers, money and
• Plant only as much as you need
• Plant the appropriate type of
turfgrass for your climate.
• Bunch grasses provide spiky
interest throughout the yard and
can help accent the colors of
• Hardscapes, mulches and
✔ Use turf effectively for function rather than appearance only.
✔ Consider substituting ground covers or natural mulches.
✔ Remove lawn one area at a time.
• Limit area of annual flower beds
• Use containerized plants
• Group plants according to the same exposure and water
– Vegetables and fruit trees need the most water and care. Also, plants
you may not want to part with such as azaleas, gardenias and
hydrangeas, as well as lawn.
– Low water users that may need supplemental irrigation in summer.
– Xeriscape zones – minimal water.
• Zone irrigation systems to match plant requirements
– Separate irrigation lines can be programmed to meet differences in frequency and duration
• Use drip lines and soaker hoses
• Irrigate shortly before sunrise. Avoid irrigation during windy periods.
• Install permanent, automated irrigation system.
– Design irrigation systems to emphasize uniformity especially on turf areas
• Sprinkler calibration ~ three to four times a year
– Water use rates vary greatly from season to season
• Avoid overspray from sprinklers onto sidewalks, patios or other areas.
• Refrain from watering during the winter
• Check irrigation system and repair regularly
• Deadheading, pruning,
trimming, and weeding
• Raking, thatching
• Mow lawn areas to a
height of 3”. Remove
about 1” of grass each
time you mow
Implementing Waterwise Landscaping