Xeriscape Gardening

Xeri – pronounced zery – from the classical Greek root xer, meaning dry

Xeriscape gardening, water-smart gardening, dryland gardening – these all mean much the same thing: using fewer resources while still having a good-looking yard. Is this possible in the Okanagan? You bet!

Do you want a zero-maintenance yard?

Zero maintenance is tough to reach. Even concrete painted green needs some maintenance, but we can show you garden plantings which look great but don’t need the pampering that an irrigated yard needs.

Do you want flowers in your yard starting in early spring and not ending until late fall?

We have trees, shrubs, perennial and annual flowering plants that cover the entire growing season and don’t need lots of water every week. Of course, most don’t flower continuously for the whole growing season. You really didn’t expect that, did you?

Are you tired of watering, fertilizing, mowing your lawn every few days?

We have a couple of grasses that don’t need any of this. OK, so they don’t stay green all winter. Nothing is perfect.

Are you ready for a new adventure in gardening, in learning more about plants and their place in your environment? Something you can do a bit at a time at your own speed?

This is what the xeriscape approach is all about: using plants in your garden that fit better into the local environment rather than being a drain on water resources and a potential source of overuse of fertilizer and pesticides.

Do you have to re-engineer your whole garden to switch to this “xeriscaping”?

No you don’t. You can change part of it. Maybe you have a problem area where your present maintenance isn’t working well. Maybe you have an area that isn’t very attractive in its present state. Eventually you may want to change your whole yard, but you can do it a section at a time.

You may already have some drought-tolerant plants that you didn’t realize are drought-tolerant. There are two ways to find out. One is to stop watering. The plants that die are not drought-tolerant, and you replace them with ones that are. This could take some years because water needs vary quite a bit, and weather also varies quite a bit from year to year, and your garden will not look very good while you are converting it.

The other, much better way, is to look up in a list such as the one on this web site, or check in a book to find which plants are drought-tolerant, then move the plants that need regular, frequent watering to another part of your garden and replace them in your new dry-land area with new plants known to be drought-tolerant.

Is this stuff hard?

It is a sad fact of life that the introductory part of a new subject is the hardest part. You are learning new concepts, new words, new meanings. It’s the old learning curve: steeper at first, easier later. Still, this is not rocket science. Most plants are quite adaptable and give you lots of warning when all is not well with them. And gardens are often somewhat of a “work-in-progress”. Plants die, get too big, don’t do what you thought they would, or would look better in some other part of the garden.

If you are going to turn to xeriscape gardening, you do need to know a bit more about plants and soils than the “water every three to four days” that is adequate when you have irrigation. There are lots of books on xeriscape gardening now. Your library and bookstores will have some of them. If you have an internet connection, there is lots of information there.

There are seven principles of xeriscape gardening: planning and design, plant selection, soil analysis, turf, irrigation, mulches, and maintenance.

More Information on Xeriscape


Okanagan Xeriscape Association

This is an abundant resource for everything associated with Xeriscape. Find all you need here.

Click Here

Native Plant Society of BC

Want to find close to 200 people from British Columbia and beyond who appreciate, enjoy, study and work with BC’s native plants and their habitats?

Click Here

Okanagan & Similkameen Invasive Species Society

Want to see information on what types of harmful species are intruding on the Okanagan? Find out what is harmful and what is good.