Assessing The Current Landscape
You may start with bare ground or you may have an existing landscape that you want to make more water efficient. As you start to develop a plan for your new landscape, walk around your yard and make notes of what is already there.
Even a high water use plant can be kept in a well-designed xeriscape as long as it receives supplemental water from roof run-off or other sources and isn’t located in full sun.
The watering requirements of the plants and various climatic conditions within the landscape (known as micro-climates) should also be considered when deciding on the placement of turf areas, gardens, trees and shrub borders. It may be helpful to take pictures of your landscape from several different angles. Take notes as you view your yard at different times of the day and at different times of the year and ask the following questions:
What are the existing features of the landscape?
- Trees or shrubs that require a long time to grow or would be difficult to replace
- Patios, walkways, structures
- Views that need to be preserved
- Low or high spots, slopes that may be difficult to irrigate efficiently
- Utility boxes, overhead power lines, easements, right of ways
What elements of the landscape do you want to keep?
- Large trees
- Grandpa’s prize rose bushes
- A lawn where the kids can play
- The sandbox or kids play area
- The dog run
- A clothes line
What do you want to eliminate?
- The overgrown junipers that block the morning sun
- Narrow strips of turf that are difficult to water efficiently
- The wooden deck that requires staining every year
You may be able to answer these questions on your own or you may prefer to have the assistance of a professional. Professionals can guide you through the preliminary process of evaluating your current landscape and offer a number of different design options. It is certainly possible to develop and implement a good landscape design without the aid of a professional, however. The next step is to begin planning and designing your landscape.