Misconceptions about Water Conserving Landscapes

Many people have misconceptions about what a water conserving landscape should look like. Instead of xeriscape, another term for water conserving landscapes, many think of a ‘zero-scape’ or a landscape made up of rock, cactus, and animal skulls.

While there are many concerns about what a water conserving landscape should look like, many can be solved by simply understanding what a water conserving landscape is and what it is not.

A water conserving landscape simply uses less water than a conventional landscape. A number of water conservation principles can be used to help reduce water in the landscape.

House with red gravel in front and one tree in the middle of the gravel
Xeriscape or zeroscape? Photo credit: Paul Swanson Flickr CC NY-ND 2.0
shrubs and flowering plants above a low stone wall lead up to the entrance of a house painted white with black trim
Example of a lush water conserving landscape in Seattle, WA. Photo credit: edgeplot: Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


What Water Conserving Landscapes are NOT

Sterile and lifeless

  • Many drought tolerant plants have long lasting blooms and lush foliage.

Restrictions in landscape styles

  • While some responsible plant choices could reduce the size of a plant palette, many landscape styles can still be achieved.

An understanding of the intricacies of irrigation to effectively reduce landscape water use

  • While a basic understanding of irrigation principles is helpful, there are many professionals who can assist in creating an efficient irrigation system.

Special skills are needed to create a water-wise landscape – This can be tackled two ways:

  1. Resources such as the Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape website are available to learn more about water conserving landscaping.
  2. An increasing number of landscape designers specialize in water conserving landscaping

Exploring design ideas as well as learning about native and drought tolerant plants can go a long way to understanding how a water conserving landscape can look.

Additional Content by Region


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