XERISCAPING- “ It’s all Greek to Me”

XERISCAPING- “ It’s all Greek to Me”

Xeriscaping sounds like a funny term that is difficult to pronounce and has been a horticulture buzz word for a period of time now. But, it is really a combination of the Greek word “xeros” meaning dry and landscape. It was coined back in the 1970s in Colorado when the Denver area was experiencing a period of arid
weather and rapid urban growth. Landscape practices were developed to utilize less water.

Throughout the years since then xericaping has transitioned from high country drought tolerant gardening to encompass water conservation principals. These techniques can apply to many styles of horticulture designs.

Today, xeriscape gardening refers to water conservation through creative landscaping techniques and practices. Here are some principles to consider:

  • Select plants that either grow naturally in your area or plants that require similar growing conditions as native plants.
  • Consider drought-tolerant plants.
  • Silver-gray, fuzzy, small or thick leaves generally are characteristics that help plants save water.

Plant placement is important, too:

  • Hot, dry areas that have southern or western exposure are best for plants that require minimum water, whereas plants that like a bit more moisture do best in northern or eastern facing areas.
  • Be careful not to mix plants that have different moisture needs
  • Improve your soil, ideally with compost, so it will drain quickly and will also store water.
  • Limit turf areas (which are water guzzlers) or replace lawns with less-thirsty plantings.
  • Use mulch which helps retain soil moisture and also acts as a weed suppressant and prevents erosion.
  • Water deeply and less frequently using drip irrigation or soaker hoses to conserve moisture.

The key idea to remember in xeriscape gardening is water conservation. Our earth has a finite amount of water and the demands are becoming increasingly greater. A common-sense approach to gardening keeping these principals in mind can be applied to most garden designs. The Rogue Valley has ideal climate In fact,
I am sure that many of you are already practicing xeriscape gardening and just hadn’t referred to it as that!

I’m including a short list of waterwise plants that will do well in the Rogue Valley but bear in mind that this is just an introduction. I have listed the botanical name first followed by common name. An added bonus to drought tolerant plants is that most are deer resistant! What more can we ask for?!


  • Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
  • Feather Reed Grass
  • Helictotrichon sempervirens
  • Blue Oat Grass
  • Pennisetum ‘Hamelyn’
  • Fountain Grass


  • Achillea millefolium
  • Yarrow
  • Agastache various
  • Hyssop
  • Artemisia various
  • Wormwood
  • Iberis sempervirens
  • Candytuft
  • Pervoskia
  • Russian Sage
  • Santolina
  • Lavendar Cotton


  • Actostphylos
  • Manzanita
  • Berberis
  • Barberry
  • Mahonia
  • Oregon Grape
  • Ribes sanguinium
  • Red Flowering Currant


  • Acer circinatum
  • Vine Maple
  • Psuedotsuga menziesii
  • Douglas Fir
  • Thuja plicata
  • Western Red Cedar

As we go into the growing season consider our landscape water use and ReThink our choices. We can have beautiful landscapes and gorgeous gardens with careful planning and still protect and preserve our precious resource: water.

Carla DiFabion
Master Recycler 2010