Xeriscaping your yard 101

Summer in California can be unpredictable, but there’s no doubt that it’ll be hot + dry. Learn the benefits and tips to xeriscaping your yard.

Some drought-tolerant plants against a fence in a backyard.

This is the start of City Editor Alyson’s xeriscaped yard.

Photo by SJtoday staff

Table of Contents

City Editor Alyson here. The heat has been a tad ruthless this month, as my energy bill can confirm — and so can my dying plants.

California’s historically dry summers strip yards of lush, green gardens, but there’s a way to combat the ugliness. Introducing: xeriscaping.

What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a landscaping practice that utilizes drought-tolerant plants with the aim to conserve water and waste from yard trimmings. Benefits include lower water bills, less usage of fertilizers + pest repellents, and reduced maintenance.

What plants can I use?

While desert plants, like cacti and succulents, immediately come to mind, there are tons of options — as well as some that are native to San Jose. Start by browsing these local lists:

Pro tip: Many of the plants mentioned can be found at Capitol Wholesale Nursery, Inc. and Linda Vista Native Plants.

Tips + tricks

Xeriscapes don’t take too much effort to upkeep, but building a strong foundation will help maintain steady growth. To ensure a healthy xeriscape:

  • Plant in well-draining soil — avoid soggy or dry soil
  • Add mulch — a layer on your landscape can help retain moisture + keep roots cool
  • Water earlier in the day — doing so at peak heat times (the middle of the day) will make the water evaporate quickly
  • Pull weeds — getting rid of dead plant debris will keep a healthy landscape