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A Look at Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is an excellent way for customers to conserve water, save time, and reduce maintenance.

August 15, 2021

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A Look at Xeriscaping

Have you heard of xeriscaping? Based on the Greek word “xeros” which means dry, it’s a practice that involves landscaping with native, slow-growing, drought-resistant plants. It’s a system that can be used effectively in any climate but is particularly beneficial to dry areas like the Western United States. People have been using this method of landscaping for centuries, but it gained traction in the 1980’s when Denver Water coined the term. The utility wanted to promote less water usage during a multi-year drought, and eventually created the seven principles of xeriscaping:
  1. Sound landscaping planning and design
  2. Limitation of turf/lawn to appropriate and functional areas
  3. Use of water efficient plants
  4. Efficient irrigation
  5. Soil amendments
  6. Use of mulches
  7. Appropriate landscape maintenance

Xeriscaping Benefits 

There are many benefits to xeriscaping, but the top advantage by far is water conservation. An EPA study shows that the average American family uses 320 gallons of water a day, with 30% dedicated to landscaping. In the Southwest, outdoor water use can be up to 60%. National Geographic states that switching to a xeriscape can reduce water use by 50%-75%. Using a mixture of rocks and native plants is essential for landscapes that survive and thrive throughout times of high heat and droughts. Additionally, use of native plants should help soil infiltration, minimize mosquitoes, and even attract wildlife such as hummingbirds and butterflies. While many people associate xeriscapes with cacti and clay, there are many plants and looks you can go for in your project. For perennials in California, you can plant rosemary, lavender, Santa Barbara daisy, daffodils, and Mexican sage, among others. Honeysuckle and wisteria make for attractive climbing vines, and succulents like agave and aloe are beautiful in xeriscapes. 

In addition to saving money, homeowners save time with less maintenance. There is little turf used in xeriscapes, so there are less mowing and fertilizing needs. If a customer wants grass, species like blue oat grass and blue fescue grass have the same look but require less water and upkeep. For customers who enjoy annual color, you can install varieties like California poppies, lupine, clarkia, and larkspur that require little water, but still pack a colorful punch. 

Some drought prone cities give cash back or rebate incentives to landholders who install xeriscapes. Visit your local and state websites to see if this is available in your area.

Contractor Opportunities 

When you have happy customers, you have repeat business, even with low-maintenance xeriscapes. Xeriscaping is a great opportunity to incorporate hardscapes and lighting in addition to xeriscape work, so customers can minimize water usage but still have areas for entertaining. Depending on the property, regrading and irrigation system modification may be needed.

If a customer wants to keep their sprinkler system, one efficient change is  to upgrade to high efficiency nozzles like Rain Bird HE-VAN nozzles. These nozzles direct the spray in a much tighter fashion and prevent water loss from misting. If the customer wants to renovate their irrigation system, drip irrigation systems like the Hunter HDL Dripline save a ton of water and is effective, as are micro-emitters. 

Rain sensors and soil moisture sensors paired with a SMART irrigation controller are another smart irrigation upgrade. These will monitor the water levels and signal for the irrigation system to forgo watering when moisture levels are high, saving the customer money and water. 

While xeriscapes need less traditional maintenance to function properly, they will still need to be pruned and fertilized. Irrigation will need to be checked and serviced on a routine basis, mulching will need to be redone yearly, and pest control is still going to be a factor to consider and charge for during maintenance visits.

Change Brings New Business

Xeriscaping is rapidly becoming more popular as water restrictions and regulations are put in place and more customers are thinking about helping the environment. As a business owner, adapting to the changing industry and expanding your services to meet customer requests will serve you well.  You probably have all the tools needed to offer this increasingly popular style of landscaping. If you need any tips or support, visit your local SiteOne branch for assistance with xeriscaping.


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