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How To Xeriscape Your Lawn or Yard in San Diego

Posted by Robyn Sukatski on Thu, Jun 17, 2021

Succulents are great plants for a xeriscaped landscapeWhat is xeriscaping?

With drought becoming more frequent in our region, it's more important than ever that we conserve water at every opportunity. Xeriscaping is a landscaping philosophy that aims to use as many native, drought-resistant species of plant as possible, reducing water use up to 60% and encouraging local wildlife to move in.

While the concept of low-water plants may evoke images of dusty, grassless lots, xeriscaping can be done in a way that's brimming withcolors and textures, while also being environmentally responsible.

But first...

Why xeriscape your yard?

Not only does xeriscape landscaping conserve tons of water, it comes with loads of practical benefits to you. For example: 

You'll save time—No more mowing the lawn once a week, fertilizing every month, pulling weeds, aerating, or pest control (native plants are more resistant to local pests). Xeriscaped landscapes are quick to water, easy to maintain, and some popular xeriscaping plant species even reseed themselves!

You'll save money—Depending on how thirsty your current landscape is, saving up to 60% more water could cut down your water bill by thousands of dollars each year. You can also say bye-bye to all the fertilizer, seed, and labor costs of maintaining a standard landscape. 

Attract local wildlife—Use of native flowers, shrubs, and trees provide habitat for local birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, adding yet another layer of vitality to your garden. 

How to xeriscape your lawn or yard

Now that you're all pumped on your water-saving, lively xeriscape, let's get into how it's done. The following are some important things to consider when planning and planting a xeriscaped landscape. 

Xeriscapes have colorful native plants Best plants to use in a xeriscaped landscape

To find out which plants you should use in your San Diego xeriscape, we recommending calling your local garden center to ask about native, drought-resistant varieties

However, to get you started, here are some plants native to the San Diego area that are great for xeriscaping:

  • Blue Agave
  • Silver Leaf
  • California fuchsia
  • Purple Three Awn
  • Desert Willow
  • Fairy Duster
  • Coastal Sagebrush
  • "Scarlet O'Hara" vine 
  • Succulents
  • Muhlenbergia species (grass)
  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Local wildflowers: 
    • California Lilac
    • California Sunflower
    • California Poppies. ...
    • Lupines (Bluebonnets) ...
    • Mariposa Lilies. ...
    • Monkey Flower. ...
    • Flowering Cacti.

While native, low-water plants are the stars of any xeriscape, the location and grouping of your native plant species will affect the amount of water they use. Here's how to plan your xeriscape for maximum efficiency and aesthetic appeal. 

How to plan your xeriscaped yard

After you've chosen your favorite native plant varieties, you'll want to group them by: 

  • How much water they need 
  • How much sunlight they need 


Designate your "oasis zones"—These are the areas in your yard that get the most water and attention. Here, you'll place the species requiring more frequent watering. Note: you'll want to place plants requiring more sunlight wherever the afternoon sun hits your oasis zones. To make the best use of your existing water conditions, look for areas of your yard that are:

  • close to large structures or other shady spots, so less water will evaporate 
  • at the base of slopes, under runoff points from your roof, or next to ditches and ponds.

Fill in transition zones—Oasis zones and any lawn areas should be surrounded by transition zones. Design-wise, you can think of using a cascading effect in your xeriscape, from tall, bright oasis plants, "down" toward your transition zones. Here, you'll plant varieties in the middle of the sun/water-use spectrum. These include:

  • Shrubs
  • bushes
  • ornamental grass clumps

Plant the arid zones—Your arid zones are those exposed to many hours of sunlight, have dryer soil, or otherwise out-of-the-way where they don't get a lot of attention. Here, you'll plant your lowest-maintenance varieties. These could include: 

  • Cacti
  • succulents
  • drought-resistant shrubs
  • low-lawn substitutes
  • native grasses
  • For larger areas, use larger varieties or structures, such as: 
  • raised flower beds
  • native, drought-resistant trees
  • decorative structures like statues or planted wheelbarrows

Plant lawns carefully—A xeriscaped landscape doesn't have to mean zero grass. If you want lawn space for kids, animals, other activities, plan it out so only the areas that will be frequently used are planted with grass. It's recommended to locate your lawn space near your oasis areas or other water sources. Some low-water grasses include blue grama grass and buffalo grass. 

Xeriscape your San Diego yard now 

Xeriscaping is a beautiful way to drought-proof your yard, save money, cut down maintenance, and even support local wildlife. If you're interested in xeriscaping your outdoor spaces, but don't know where to begin, Clean Earth Restorations has an extensive network of contractors that can help. 

For a free consultation or emergency services, call 619-284-4239. We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!


Schedule An Appointment Today!


Principles of Xeriscaping: Design, Turf and Plant Selection - Principles of Xeriscaping | HowStuffWorks, Plant Selection tips,
What is Xeriscaping? | HowStuffWorks, Why xeri? Xeriscaping can save you money,
Principles of Xeriscaping: Soil, Water, Mulch, Maintenance - Tips for Xeriscaping | HowStuffWorks, Why xeri? Maintenance is easier ,
Ten Reasons to Convert to Xeriscape or Why Should I Remove My Grass, Why xeri? 10 reasons,
San Diego Xeriscaping 101 | Murray Lampert, Best Plants for Xeriscaping San Diego ,
5 Ways to Xeriscape on a Budget - Resource Central, (Top tips) Xeriscaping on a budget ,
10 Best Landscaping Plants for San Diego Climate, Best plants for San diego xeriscape,

Topics: maintenance service san diego, San diego construction, san diego building, san diego landscaping, san diego design, construction service, san diego xeriscape, xeriscaping service, san diego maintenance, design service, san diego landscape

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