So, you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer and have decided to xeriscape your yard, but you don’t know where to begin. I am not a professional landscape designer (yes – this is a disclaimer), but I have learned a few tips and tricks from the professionals over the past few years to make the conversion easier. While your finished product will reflect your personal style, here are a few general steps to follow.
Step one is to make a plan. Think about what you want to see in your yard and plan for the type of yard maintenance you want when the project is finished. Drive around town or search the web for examples of xeriscapes. Check out the different types of plants and ground cover including artificial turf and hardscapes like flagstone or concrete patios; note how rocks, gravel or stones are used; and consider adding yard art such as sculptures or a waterless fountain. Think about terracing sloping yards to prevent irrigation water running onto sidewalks and into the street.
Step two is to sketch your desired landscape on paper. To maximize irrigation efficiency, group plants with similar watering requirements together. Make a list the materials you’ll need. For example, if you plan to use stones or gravel, you may want to invest in weed cloth to keep unwelcome weeds from invading. Research where you can purchase plants for your landscape or consider growing them from seed. There are several local vendors that sell rock from boulders down to lava stones and pebbles. Check out their supplies noting various colors, textures and size.
The next step is to prepare the area. Let living turf die. Remove dead turf and old roots watching out for underground sprinkler lines. Once the area is clear, map out your existing automatic irrigation system. See if you can reuse any of it. In some cases, you can exchange spray heads for bubbler or drip heads. To prevent leaks, cap off or remove old piping you won’t need in your new landscape. If you have trees, be sure to set up a water source to ensure they are adequately watered. Sculpt and contour the ground for stone riverbeds or to add interest to your landscape. Level the ground where hardscape will be added. Make the necessary cuts for terracing and shore up the edges using materials like railroad ties or decorative bricks.
Lastly, execute your plan. Xeriscape conversion can be expensive, and if your yard is huge, it may feel overwhelming. If that’s the case, consider converting the yard in sections. Pick the section you dislike the most and convert it first moving on from there.
The District also has FREE reference materials at the District Office and on our website. There are a lot of professional landscapers in town who can help you. Pick up a Garden Resource list from the office or off the website, and if you have a garden resource and would like to be added to the list, contact IWVWD directly. If you have questions or need assistance, please call the Indian Wells Valley Water District at (760) 375-5086. We are here to serve you!