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Your garden could look like this if you xeriscape

Afraid of gardening because it takes up too much water and time? There is a gardening system out there for you, one that’s low-maintenance and water-saving! It’s called xeriscape: following the system’s 7 core principles leads to a garden that’s beautiful to the eyes and requires minimal effort and water. Make it a DIY or contact one of our gardening experts for help! 

Wait, what’s xeriscapes? And how does it work?

Xeriscaping is a method of gardening that involves choosing plants that are appropriate to their site and creating a landscape that can be maintained with little supplemental watering.  Xeriscapes can include trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants like perennials and ornamental grasses. These water-efficient landscapes look similar to conventional gardens, but because they incorporate species that are suited to local rainfall conditions, they require very little watering.

In other words, you reduce the amount of watering required by planting plants that maximize natural precipitation. This means the following:

  1. More water conservation;
  2. Less work for you!

This infographic outlines the benefits to xeriscaping*:


*Source: Murray Lampert

Take a look at this video: it’s an overview of how the gardening system works:

Want a second opinion? Let one of our gardening experts help you out!

How do I get started?

  1. To create your own xeriscape, start by getting to know the moisture conditions on your property. Consider the site conditions that can affect moisture, such as slopes, drainage and sun exposure.
  2. Choose the right plant for the particular location. For example, some plants thrive in sunny, dry conditions while others prefer moist, shady areas. Refer to plant catalogues, or visit your local garden center and refer to the plants’ information tags or speak to knowledgeable staff for help in choosing suitable plants.
  3. Group plants according to their water needs. Rather than uniformly watering all of your plants, cluster them into “hydrozones” by water requirements and site conditions.
Home Garden Design Plans

Home Garden Design Plans

How do I know which location is suitable?

There are three water zones on your property:

  • High water requirement zones: These zones are most visible, like the main entrance to your house.
  • Moderate zones: These zones will have plants that need some watering during hot, dry periods.
  • Low water zones: These zones need little to no additional water once the plants are established.

The keys to a successful xeriscape


You can improve the water retention capacity of the soil by amending, for example, with organic material such as compost. Mulch is also a must for any water-efficient landscape to discourage weeds, moderate the temperature of the soil, decrease evaporation and improve overall soil moisture. In addition, mulch can help reduce soil erosion by protecting it from runoff and wind.

gardening expert can help you with the logistics of your new xeriscape!

Source: Murray Lampert

Source: Murray Lampert

Supplemental wateringsoaker hose

Although xeriscapes are designed to conserve water, supplementary watering may still be needed. The most efficient irrigation methods are those that apply water directly to the soil and the roots, such as soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems. It’s the roots that absorb water, so aim for the ground. For lawns, well designed in-ground sprinkler systems are best, and timers and moisture sensors also increase watering efficiency.

It’s important to avoid over-watering. It not only wastes a valuable resource, but can weaken the plant’s root system and carry nutrients away from the roots. Before watering, take into account the amount of rainfall in the preceding week. Water in the early morning to reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves.

Does it work?

In a maintenance study, annual maintenance for a xeriscape design was compared with another design for the same house that featured a conventional lawn and ornamental flowerbeds, trees and shrubs. The xeriscape took about 25 per cent less time, 90 per cent less water, fertilizer and pesticides and cost 60 per cent less to maintain per year than the more conventional design.

xeriscape gardens

Your garden can look like this! For more information on creating your very own xeriscape garden, take a look at the CMHC’s Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes.

Want a gardening expert to take a look at your property and help you design a water-conservation garden? We can put you in touch with the experts! Our database of gardening professionals feature customer reviews, image galleries and videos! There’s no shortage of experts to choose from!

About the Author: Christina Haddad is the vice president of Ontario’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation division.

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