Xeriscape - San Diego Style
Installing Your Xeriscape

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    Whether starting your Xeriscape garden from "scratch", or converting an existing landscape, proper procedure is essential to success. By following these guidelines, your garden will be sure to give you and your community years of pleasure. Coastal Areas normally allow for year round planting. Fall, then spring are best for inland areas.

Weed Control

     For best results, eradicate weeds completely, first encourage weed growth with irrigation, then remove by hand, rototill, or use an herbicide (always follow label directions). A second herbicide application may be necessary for stubborn, older weeds or regrowth.

Grading and Drainage

     By hand or mechanical means, grade your lot so runoff is directed away from the foundations. Install an underground drainage system if needed.

Irrigation Installation

     An efficently designed and properly installed irrigation system is critical for optimum water savings and consistent plant growth. Irrigation work can be subcontracted out to a reputable firm.

Soil Preparation

     Have an agricultural suiability soil test done. Incorporate recommended material into the soil by hand or machine to at least 4-6. In general, peat moss will hold water in sand or decomposed granite soils, while composted wood products will improve drainage and loosen heavy clay soils. Proper preperation encourages plant growth, and its essential for asuccessful xeriscape.


     Follow the diagram for planting shrubs and trees. Prepare a level, smooth seedbed for turf. Ground cover can normallly be planted in a trowel sized pocket. Consult a nursery for you special needs.


     A xeriscape is incomplete without mulch. Two to three inches of material will prevent evaporation and will give your plantings a finished look. Organic mulches, such as wood bark, will need to be replenished occasionally, but actually improve the soil as they break down. Rock and gravel are permanent. Do not pile much directly on the trunks of your plants, as this may promote root or crown rot.

1. Dig hole twice the size of the plant rootball. Fill with water before planting and let the water soak in.
2. Back fill with a mixture of 2 parts soil tio one part composted wood product. Mix in fertilizer as recommended in soil test.
3. Place fertilizer tablets in the soil mix (NOT in contact with root ball.)
4. Set plant in hole so none of the trunk is buried after the plant settles, and none of the roots are uncovered.
5. Mound soil in a ring around the hole to help capture water.

Further Reading

Landscaping with Wildflowers & Native Plants, 93 pp., Editorial Staff of Ortho Books, San Ramon, CA 1984

Ornamental Plants for Subtropical Reigons, 485 pp., Roland Stewart Hoyt, Livingston Press, Anaheim, CA 1978

Plants for Dry Climates, How to Select, Grow, and Enjoy, 176 pp., Mary Rose Duffield & Warren D. Jones, H. P. Books, Tucson, AZ 1981.
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This is a reprint of an article originally printed in Xeriscapes - San Diego Style 1990