What is Xeriscape landscaping?

Xeriscape landscaping is landscape design that focuses on drought tolerant plants, efficient water use, and limiting (or eliminating) lawn. There are seven design principles that a landscape architect or designer will take into consideration when planning a xeriscaped yard. The Habitat Network has a great article about the seven principles, as well as mges and examples of implementation of these principles. 

Xeriscaping is most often applied to landscape design in warm and dry environments such as Eastern Washington, the South West, and California. While you may picture different shades of browns, yellow and creams when you think of these landscapes, xeriscape plants come in all colors of the rainbow. Houzz has a lookbook with great examples of the variety of ways to apply xeriscaping principles to different spaces. 

Xeriscape landscaping is not just for dry, arid and desert areas! You can add xeriscape elements and plants to any garden and yard to conserve water, create a low maintenance landscape, and to add beauty and interest to your property. This year, the Pacific Northwest is experiencing a long period of hot and sunny weather.

Here are 5 unique plants that can thrive in the Pacific Northwest, while being drought tolerant: 

  1. Naked Ladies, also known as Amaryllis Belladonna. Naked ladies are drought tolerant and thrive in any full sun, dry areas of your garden. They are brightly colored and attract butterflies.
  2. Sea Kale, also known as Crambe Maritima. Sea kale thrives in full sun. It’s blue-green-gray curly leaves add unique texture to your garden.
  3. Adams Needle, also know as Yucca Filamentosa. Adam’s Needle has the familiar features common to most yuccas, sharp pointed leaves and tall flower stocks that appear after the plant is well established. Adam’s Needle is drought tolerant, loves dry soil and is deer resistant.
  4. Purple Stem Sweet Box. Purple Stem Sweet Box is a shade plant that is drought tolerant. With purple stems, green foliage and light white-pink small flowers, this plant will add attractive colors to and dry, shady areas in your yard.
  5. Licorice Fern, also known as Polypodium Glycyrrhiza. Licorice fern is also a shade loving plant that is drought tolerant. Deep green fronds with dark stems, this fern is an attractive addition to any Pacific Northwest garden.

You can find out more about these and other unique, drought tolerant plants at Great Plant Picks. Great Plant Picks is an ourtreach program from the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanic Garden in Seattle.

Even in rainy years, these plants and xeriscaping can add beauty and functionality to your landscape. Here are some additional ideas to inspire you to add xeriscaping to your yard:

  1. Reduce or eliminate lawn. This may sound intimidating, but alternative ground covers are just as soft to walk on. Stones, rocks, patios and other functional elements can help make usable space (places for hammocks, chairs, grills, etc.) where the lawn once was. 
  2. Add drought tolerant plants to your landscaping. Reducing water use is good for the environment, your water bill and generally reducing required yard maintenance. 
  3. Add efficient irrigation to your landscape. Efficient irrigation can reduce the amount of water used to effectively water plants. 
  4. Add natural elements to your yard other than plants. Stone sculptures, well placed boulders, river rock accents, wooden walkways, and patios are some ideas. These elements don’t need to be watered. They add beauty, interest and texture to your landscape, just like plants, but they are impossible to kill. 

Yardmaster, Inc. is a full service landscaping company. We have served King and Snohomish counties, including the communities of Bellevue, and Arlington in Washington state for decades. Let’s work together to make your yard beautiful, functional, and enjoyable for years to come. 


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