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Seven Steps to a Water-Saving Garden

Xeriscaping, from the Greek word 'xeros' for 'dry,' is the creation of a garden that uses less water than traditional landscaping. You can do this by choosing plants that are drought-tolerant and by using horticultural techniques that use water most efficiently. Taking these steps will reduce your outdoor water use while creating a colorful, natural, yard or garden that is easier and cheaper to maintain.

Planning & design

Consider soil and light conditions, drainage, which existing plants you plan to keep, maintenance level desired, plant and color preferences, and your budget.

Soil improvements

Mix compost or peat moss into the soil before planting to help the soil retain water. If your yard is sloped, reduce water run-off with terraces and retaining walls.

Practical lawns

Limit the amount of area devoted to grass. Plant groundcovers or add hard surface areas like patios, decks or walkways. When replanting lawn areas, use drought-tolerant grass seed mixes.

Plant selection

Choose from among the many types of low-water-using trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers. Many need watering only in the first year or two after planting.

Efficient irrigation

Install drip or trickle irrigation systems for those areas that need watering. These systems use water efficiently and are available from commercial garden centers.

Effective use of mulches

Use mulches like pine needles or shredded bark or leaves in a layer 3 inches deep. This keeps soil moist, smothers weeds and prevents erosion.

Regular maintenance

Properly timed pruning, fertilizing, pest control and weeding will preserve your landscape's beauty and water efficiency.