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Five Easy Steps to Xeriscape Your Yard

If you live in a dry climate, or if you simply want to reduce your water bill, you might consider xeriscaping your yard. The term xeriscape is derived from the Greek word "xeros", meaning dry, and landscaping. It involves the use of landscaping features and materials that do not require water. The addition of drought-resistant plants for greenery keeps water usage to a minimum. Here are five simple steps to xeriscaping your yard.

1. Layout: Carefully consider how you want your landscape to look. A virtual landscaping computer program can be very useful, allowing you to visualize different layouts using xeriscaping elements. Remember to keep grass areas small if you elect to use grass at all. This will help keep water usage to a minimum. If you are working with a large, flat area, consider creating mounds or hillocks for visual impact. You can find affordable programs online or at local technology stores or garden centers.

2. Preparation: Once you have determined your layout, prepare the area to be landscaped. Install a drip system to water the plants you have chosen. Prepare the soil in the areas to be planted. Lay down weed barrier cloth, also called landscaping fabric, to prevent weeds.

3. Most xeriscape layouts call for areas of rock landscaping. The use of various colored small rocks for different areas with large rocks placed for visual interest is common. If your layout calls for pathways, you can use gravel, decomposed granite for a natural look, or a concrete or flagstone path if you prefer.

4. Plant your drought-resistant plants at the chosen locations. Make sure your drip system is placed to provide them with water.

5. Finish off your xeriscape with outdoor lighting. If you are using a low-voltage system, you should have laid out the wiring during the preparation phase. However, a much better choice is solar-powered lighting. Solar landscaping lights are available in a variety of attractive designs. The big advantage of this type of lighting is the flexibility. You can place solar fixtures anywhere that they will get sunlight during the daytime hours, and they will provide light well into the night.

Xeriscaping will not only minimize the use of water, but is also very low maintenance. Once you have installed your xeriscape, you can enjoy it with only minimal seasonal maintenance such as pruning and fertilizing your drought-resistant plants.