09.26.12Gregory Ray

10 Low Water-Use Landscape Design Ideas

PHOENIXAdd a pop of color for visual interest Low water use landscapeMix colors and textures with plants and groundcovers Use structures and hardscape to frame the landscape Picture1 032Design grades naturally through the landscape using boulders and cobble. Sign WallTie hardscape to the natural features of the landscape. By using natural materials the design becomes timeless

Water Smart garden design is easy. Below are a few basics that can make any garden Water Smart. By incorporating these basics, success will come easy to those who take on the challenge.

Water-smart landscapes are not rock and cactus. A well-designed Xeriscape landscape should look like it belongs in any popular home and gardening magazine.

Additionally, you don’t need to totally redo your yard to achieve substantial water savings. Many simple ideas can be incorporated into your existing landscapes. I have listed some key design ideas below and provided some photos to provide you with some inspiration. Basically, using good, fundamental landscape design techniques will lead to not only an attractive yard, but also to water savings. Let’s look at some ways to design a water smart yard.

  1. Install a controller that self-adjusts to the weather
  2. Use low volume irrigation
  3. Choose plants with a variety of colors and textures
  4. Don’t choose plants that will outgrow their environments
  5. Choose plants with a tighter, slower growth habit
  6. Add multi-trunk tree canopy to create vertical interest
  7. Pick a low growing (turf substitute) groundcover for foreground planting
  8. Incorporate hardscape that ties to the naturalistic design
  9. Use natural looking groundcover textures like dry creeks and boulders or decomposed granite to enhance the natural look
  10. Contour grade the site to add intrest on the ground plane

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Gregory Ray

What do you call a landscape architect who understands how to design memorable environments that are also constructible and highly functional spaces? The answer is Gregory Ray. Greg recently came to ValleyCrest from the home building industry where he led the landscape program for a major home builder. Prior to earning his degree as a landscape architect, Greg founded a landscape construction company to earn his way through college. With over 30 years of experience, Greg has found his passion in reintroducing an attractive native plant palette in drought prone communities throughout the Southwest and Western regions.


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  1. Wednesday, 1:08 Alan Harris

    #4 drives me crazy when I see it in the field. Every landscape architect should intern for a week for a maintenance company. They would pick up a lot of valuable information to help their designs be better maintained.

  2. Sunday, 7:54 Eric Romero

    Nice article and good pics.

  3. Thursday, 6:48 Jeavonna Chapman

    Lots of landscape will benefit from xeriscapiing. These drought summers are becoming the new weather pattern. If you have a water-greedy landscape it is time for a change.

  4. [...] 10 Low Water-Use Landscape Design Ideas [...]

  5. [...] Design your landscape with local climate, soil conditions and water requirements in mind. [...]

  6. [...] and Glenn Thompson to express my concerns.  The program allows for two options when it comes to landscape design.  I support the first option, which is to use a water budget tool based on best practices of the [...]

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