Proven Pillars of Xeriscaping

The McMillin Homes blog isn't quite two years old, but we've noticed a trend in our posts that tends to conform with trends in Texas weather. That continues this month; if you haven't noticed, it's been a bit warm out lately, and that means folks are doing everything they can to conserve water.

Perhaps we should say almost everything, since there are some things even penny-pinchers won't do. In this case, we're talking about xeriscaping. Why? For many people, water-wise landscaping is one thing, but xeriscaping brings to mind what you see on the right: images of rock lawns, cacti, and other landscaping elements that come with warning labels.

The good news is that xeriscaping doesn't require a barren lawn or thorn-filled plants – strictly speaking, the practice is just about landscaping proactively for conservation. But just saying you want to save water through smart landscaping isn't enough; if details are what you need, we have you covered:

Planning and Design

Most of us have water-hungry lawns because we weren't around when they were designed; a water-saving landscape starts with a solid plan. Conservation is much more difficult when it's applied after-the-fact, so a plan helps determine use and traffic patterns that offer a firm foundation for your xeriscape.

Soil Analysis and Improvement

For those in the Hill Country and San Antonio areas, soil is that thin organic material on top of the rock you have in your yard. Jokes aside, knowing how much topsoil you have and how it’s composed will help you choose the best plants and turf for your landscape.

Plant Selection

If you love cacti, you're welcome to fill your lawn with these water-sippers and laugh when people hop and dance to your front door. For those who want a little more variety and less danger, you're in luck; water-saving flowers, ground cover, and shade trees that are comfortable in South Texas are available in most nurseries. A xeriscaped lawn can be as full of color and personality as you make it, just like the one on the right.

Turf Grass

Contrary to myth, turf grasses have a place in xeriscaping, but there are two important things to consider. First, take a solid inventory of where you actually need turf; with careful thought, you might realize it's not necessary in many places in your landscape. Additionally, pick a turf grass that is suited to drought-prone areas - Zoysia or buffalograss are good choices for South Texas.


Xeriscaping doesn't mean you never irrigate, but it definitely cuts down how much water you use. Like any new landscape installation, your lawn will require water to get established. Planning for future irrigation needs, including irrigating in zones according to need, will help you reduce water use in the future.


You can't sing too many praises about mulch – it reduces water use, beautifies your landscape, cuts down on weeds, and requires only occasional maintenance. Plus, there are almost unlimited material and color options, though all mulch is not equal, so choose the right type for the right zone of your landscape.


Another busted myth: xeriscaped lawns do, indeed, require maintenance. How much maintenance will actually be determined in the design phase, so consider upkeep when assembling your plan. The upside is knowing that the loving care of your xeriscaped lawn is saving you money and helping the community with water conservation.


Tagged in : Green Living