It’s been over 5 years now for our totally Xeriphytic Yard and there have been lessons learned, unexpected surprises, stressful climate conditions, but no regrets. So here is a report card on our Xeriphytic experience. A xeriphytic yard has several objectives including greatly reduced water usage, adaptability and durability of plantings, attraction of wildlife whose habitat is being demolished by continuous human development, and the aesthetics of seeing a diverse, beautiful landscape year around.
A key to success is choice of native and adaptive plants. We have had trial and error experiences and our garden (defined as the entire yard) has been a testbed for determining the most durable and adaptive plants. Yes, we have changed out many plants that didn’t do well in the desired location and tried new prospects but overall, the Garden has been 80 percent unchanged over the 5 year period. A little change out of plants is also a fringe benefit by diversifying the garden occasionally.
I rate my best xeriphytic plants by dependability, pests and disease resistance, adaptability to severe seasonal temperature fluctuations, maintenance requirements, attraction of wildlife, and overall textural appeal.
So, I created a short list of plants, based on our own personal, testing and experience, from which any person wishing to xeriscape their yard and reduce lawn area, might benefit. As we are in our mid 70’s, living in hot, dry central Texas for 12 years, I have been working year by year to reduce maintenance and still enjoy the relatively carefree benefits of a xeriscape. My recommendations for beginners is based on a minimum of 3 years of success with each plant and by all means is not all inclusive. I recommend Googling them by botanical name to learn more about them. I have just listed species in many cases as there are so many varieties and cultivars within most of them. For example, Crepe Myrtles come from 12” to 20’ tall in a multitude of colors. I did not intentionally include any potentially dangerous plants, for which the Southwest is famous for. I word of caution however. Summer is not the time to construct a xeriscape, but planning for fall would be beneficial. Seek advice from knowledgeable sources.
A good xeriscape plan requires much advance study and thought so whatever design you develop, you can’t go wrong with plants on this recommended list for a beginning. I hope this is helpful and will inspire more people to face the reality that water is becoming a scarce resource and we much change our thinking about our landscaping. There is one recommended turf grass included that we have found best for central Texas overall, Palisades Zoysia and we use it only to comply with our HOA requirement that 25% pf the front area must be turf grass. We have a lot of happy bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds etc. all of which love our choice of native and adaptive plants which provide some natural habitat so we can share the earth with them.