Deciding to xeriscape a drought resistant garden is one of the most cost-effective and time-saving decisions a homeowner can make. It may take some research and time, but the end results will be worth any time, labor, and money invested. By doing the work yourself, you have greater control over the end result and will save hundreds of dollars.
Step 1: Make a Plan for Your Yard
First you need to determine how much of your yard you want to xeriscape and how much you want to keep grass. Draw up a plan that specifies grassy areas, recreational areas, pet areas and garden area. Then determine the types of plants best suited to your specific climate and soil type. If you plan to create your garden in an area that receives full sun for most of the day, choose plants that are suited to those conditions.
Step 2: Prepare the Ground
You will need to clear the area of any grass, leaves and debris. If the area is growing grass, you will need to kill off the grass well in advance to begin your garden. This gives the soil time to slough off any chemicals used in the grass elimination process. Depending on your soil type, you will need to incorporate materials that help the soil soak up and retain water. You may need to add sand, compost or peat moss to improve the quality of your soil and its ability to retain moisture. Use a shovel, hoe, or trowel to loosen the soil and mix amendments into the soil.
Step 3: Begin to Plant
Start your planting by grouping plants together that have the same water, soil and sunlight needs. Make sure plants have enough space between them so as not to intrude on another plant, or steal its water and nutrients. By grouping plants together by their specific needs, it is easier to care for and maintain your garden.
Step 4: Mulch
Add a layer of mulch around your plants to help them retain moisture, reduce weed growth, and keep roots cool. The type of mulch you use depends on the look you want for your garden as well as what may be most cost effective in your area or situation. For example, if you live near a sawmill, you may be able to obtain wood chips for little or no cost.
Step 5: Set Up a Watering System
Depending on what you’ve planted, determine the best method for watering efficiently. Some plants can be hand watered if they need little water. Others may need a sprinkler or irrigation system for regular watering. Drip irrigation can be a very efficient watering method for controlling how much and how often a plant is watered.
Step 6: Maintenance
Even though a xeriscaped garden requires less care, you still need to regularly weed, fertilize, prune, and water the area for it to stay healthy and survive the worst conditions.