How to Create a Beautiful Landscape While Conserving Water

Embrace the philosophy of xeriscaping for a sustainable yard

According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Utah Division of Water Resources, “up to 60% of residential water use is applied to outdoor landscapes,” — and as the country’s second driest state, it’s becoming increasingly important to find ways to conserve this precious resource. 

Dry, arid regions across the United States have begun to embrace xeriscaping, a landscaping philosophy that encourages a mindset shift towards water conservation, sustainability, and working in harmony with the natural environment.

However, to many, the concept of xeriscaping conjures images of barren rock and sparse desert plants — not the lush, full landscapes they dream of. But nothing could be further from the truth. You can have a lawn where you can relax and play with the kids and gorgeous gardens full of vibrant, flowering perennials while doing your part to conserve water. 

Here’s how you can use xeriscaping to make your landscape more sustainable.

Choose plants adapted to the environment

Xeriscaping emphasizes choosing plants that are native or well-suited to the local climate. These plants have evolved to thrive in arid conditions, requiring less water once established.  

Drought-tolerant species tend to have deep root systems, making them less reliant on surface water. Some plants often used in xeriscapes include purple coneflower, Russian sage, black-eyed Susan, yarrow and penstemon, among others — so don’t be worried about a lack of color!

Choosing native plant species has another benefit, too. They attract wildlife to your yard. And because they’re suited to the environment, they’re not as susceptible to being eaten by the local fauna, particularly deer. Your plants might still be nibbled on, especially tender new growth, but they won’t be decimated.

Apply organic mulch

Mulch is a crucial component of xeriscaping. Applying a three to four-inch layer of organic mulch around plants helps suppress weeds, retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce evaporation loss.

Mulch also improves your soil as it breaks down over time, improving your plants' health and making them hardier and even more drought-resistant. Because our climate is so dry, the mulch breaks down quite slowly, so all you need to do is top-dress your garden beds with an inch or two of fresh mulch each spring.

Improve your soil with compost

Improving the quality of your soil enhances water retention and drainage. Adding organic matter, such as compost, to your soil helps improve its structure. 

As an added benefit, since compost and mulch also feed the soil, you can reduce the amount of pesticides and fertilizers you use. 

Reimagine your lawn as a design element

Your turf needs a lot of water to keep it green and healthy. Xeriscaping encourages limiting the size of your lawn in favor of alternatives that use less water, such as native grasses, groundcovers and hardscape features — but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate it altogether. 

At Sunline, we want people to have grassy areas to relax with their kids and toss around a football or hold an afternoon picnic. We design our landscapes to make outdoor spaces functional while being mindful of water conservation. That means, using terracing to prevent runoff and improve water drainage, including patios and pathways in our designs and thinking of a lawn as a design element instead of the main attraction.

Use a smart irrigation system

To ensure efficiency, it is crucial to have a customized irrigation system for your property. We recommend incorporating various types of irrigation, such as drip irrigation for lawns and flower beds, and extending spray irrigation into the natural environment. This approach might seem counterintuitive, but by irrigating beyond your property's boundaries, you transition between well-maintained and natural areas, making it more harmonious.

Without a smart controller to manage your irrigation system, it can be easy to overwater your yard without even realizing it. To save water, you must consider several factors, such as weather and how much water plants need at any given time. At Sunline, Weathermatic’s technology provides us with the data we need to conserve water.  

The Weathermatic system is integrated with Hydrawise, a Wi-Fi-based irrigation control system you can operate from your phone. Together, these systems use data collected from local weather stations to adjust the water released from your irrigation system at any time. It also sends an alert if it senses a leak in your system and shuts it down so you don’t waste water.

The benefits of xeriscaping go beyond water conservation

Because of all the actions taken above — mulching, composting, choosing native plants, properly designing your space and using smart irrigation — xeriscapes typically require less maintenance than traditional landscapes. 

Proper maintenance practices include regular pruning, weed control, monitoring irrigation systems for leaks or inefficiencies and using technology to adjust watering schedules based on plant needs and weather variations.

Xeriscaping aims to create aesthetically pleasing, functional landscapes that conserve water and align with local ecosystems.

 By implementing these basic principles of xeriscaping, homeowners in Utah can create beautiful, sustainable landscapes that thrive with minimal water usage and contribute to the conservation of water resources in the region.

At Sunline, we’re passionate about helping you realize your dream of memorable weekends at home, surrounded by family and friends — and we’re equally passionate about creating sustainable landscapes. If you’re interested in working with us, request a consultation and tell us a bit about yourself and your project.