Xeriscape principles at work in a small garden

When Liz and John Hartley moved from Denver to Las Vegas, they put the xeriscape techniques they’d already mastered into practice in a new setting.

For example, instead of installing a thirsty lawn in their 20- by 20-foot front yard, the Hartleys put in a rock garden. Apache plumes, mesquites, yuccas, and other natives are its foundation. Though they require an occasional watering during especially dry years, these tough plants get by almost entirely on rainfall. Perennials like gazanias and verbenas, which do need regular water, are used more sparingly. They’re watered by drip irrigation.

Water harvesting is another xeriscape principle at work in this garden. Several miniwashes were sculpted into the terrain to collect rainwater and let it percolate into the soil instead of draining it into the street. (The sculpting also adds interest to what had been a pancake-flat yard.) A thick layer of mulch helps retain soil moisture, as does the shade provided by a mesquite tree.

In the Southern Nevada Water Authority Landscape Awards competition, the Hartleys’ garden won first prize in a homeowner-designed and -installed category.

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