Design and Construction, Green Building, Grounds Management

How Xeriscaping Can Reduce Water Use and Maintenance

As green buildings become more widespread, it’s important to not overlook how we can turn outdoor spaces into more sustainable designs. Xeriscaping is one landscaping method that creates a low-water natural space that is not only easy to maintain, it’s beneficial to the environment.

Close up of xeriscaped landscape bed

Annie Spratt /

Lush gardens and greenery can make for a more inviting and welcoming building space. Unfortunately the costs to landscape, maintain, and water can be quite high. As a facilities manager, cutting water costs can be a key component of managing your facilities. On the other hand, watering systems can be very wasteful. According to the EPA, up to 50% of outdoor water use can be lost due to wind, evaporation, and runoff.

What is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a modern form of landscape design that uses native plant species, grass alternatives, and low-water plants to reduce the need for supplemental water. Two major components of xeriscaping involve properly preparing your soil and installing efficient irrigation systems as opposed to sprinklers to retain as much water as possible.

Benefits of Xeriscaping

In addition to being eco-friendly, xeriscaping has other benefits for your building and community:

  • Reduce water use
  • Low maintenance and care
  • Promote native species growth

Even if you aren’t building or managing a property in an area prone to drought, introducing some of the xeriscape principles into your landscape can conserve water. You’ll also be happy to learn that after the initial setup, xeriscaping continues to be low maintenance. The absence of grass and rare need to water means you can spend less time tending to the grounds.

Xeriscaping may bring to mind cacti and succulents, but the design possibilities extend far beyond those desert plants. There are a variety of trees, flowers, and shrubs that can still create a lush oasis. Because native species are a large part of xeriscaping, the varieties will vary region to region. Just be sure to check that you aren’t reintroducing any invasive species to the outdoor space.

Basics of Xeriscaping

To get a better understanding of how xeriscaping works, follow the principles below.

  1. Proper Planning: Analyze your property and identify areas that receive the most sunlight, shade, and areas that are naturally collect water after rain.
  2. Soil Preparation: Because most drought-tolerant plants need well-draining soil, you’ll want to add organic material to any soil that isn’t up to par. Also take time to test your soil to make sure it is in proper condition for your plants.
  3. Minimize Grass: As much as everyone loves a sprawling lawn, grasses can require a lot of water (and maintenance). Instead, research lawn and ground cover alternatives like moss or low-water grasses.
  4. Incorporate Native Species: Research native species and add them to your garden space. When planning your xeriscape, group plants and shrubs of similar sun and watering needs together for a more efficient use of space.
  5. Water Efficiently: Avoid installing sprinklers and look into a drip irrigation system to reduce water waste.
  6. Add Mulch: Mulch is one of the easiest ways to reduce erosion and maintain moisture in your landscape. Add several inches and replace only when necessary.
  7. Maintain Your Space: Besides the occasional clipping and clearing, enjoy your low-maintenance landscape through every season.

For more tips on creating a xeriscape, check out this guide from The Zebra for design inspiration and popular low-water plants. Xeriscaping is just one way to make your facility more sustainable, but each effort counts.

alt link text Amanda Tallent is a content creator who develops helpful and compelling stories for The Zebra. Her passion for digital marketing and creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to lifestyle. She calls Austin, TX home and enjoys crafting, decorating and traveling in her spare time.


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