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Xeriscapes with style! 

Updated 03/13/2020 @ 3:01 PM

Xeriscaping in Florida translates to a style of landscaping that's drought tolerant and water wise.  A term that's borrowed from Southwestern style landscape design, most people see it as a landscape covered in rocks and devoid of any plants.  Many feel this is a no-maintenance approach too.  Based on my experience, vast expanses of rock in the Florida landscape not only require regular weeding which gets worse over time but also tend to become a hassle after the rock bed has been in for a while.  Rock beds are a good solution in some instances, and they can make a nice enhancement as a component of the design. 

Florida Xeriscaping should incorporate several elements.  If you don't want to have a lawn, we can do that.  The care of this type of landscape is different and I make sure you understand what will be needed before we install the landscape, not after.  

Also, you don't have to abandon the lawn altogether.  You can intelligently use less grass in limited areas where it will thrive with minimal effort relative to the turf selection.  I have installed small areas of lawn that only need a few minutes with an electric mower to keep it nice. 

If you would like to install a garden or landscape that requires minimal water, you have come to the right place.  Most Clients contact me about xericscaping options for the landscape because they want to conserve water and have a low maintenance landscape. There are many different ways to achieve this!  I don't know how many rock beds we have dug out and removed so that we can properly install a water wise landscape.  Rocks are a great accent, good for paths, and interesting in designs which utilize many elements.

To achieve the goal of irrigation conservation, special consideration must be paid to plant selection and establishment procedures. Using a good quality design to combine these elements with natural stone and you will truly have a 'Florida Xeriscape!"  This is where I come in, contact me to arrange a consult and design for your water wise landscape!

If you want to learn more, read further to learn more about xeriscaping and how the term is misused...

Common misconceptions about xeriscaping:

In landscaping, the word xeriscape has become a catch all term for sparse planting of arid desert plants among vast expanses of rock with the purpose of eliminating costs associated with irrigation and maintenance. However, this term is improperly applied in Florida landscape conditions.  Central and South Florida are sub-tropical and tropical respectively, not arid.  While some xeric or arid plant material can survive in our climate, most are ill suited for our humidity and rainfall.

We have made 'Florida specific' adaptations to this style, below you see a backyard garden in this style that combines many elements suitable to Orlando Florida landscapes...


Xeriscaping has also become a catch all term used to describe a garden that doesn't require water.  While this is possible, there is a short list of plants that can not only survive in Florida sun, but remain aesthetically acceptable during extended drought conditions.  Further, the plants must be properly established before they can exist without supplemental irrigation.

As stated above, this type of landscaping is usually combined with rocks to create that southwestern look.  But rocks are not without their maintenance requirements.  If you cover extensive areas with loose rock you can count on the need to control weeds in these areas.  Over time, dirt and debris is blown in and settles in the gaps, providing a prime spot for weed seeds to settle and germinate among the rock.  The only viable options I have found for weed control in rock gardens is either systemic herbicides or a weed flamer.  I do not recommend the weed flamer because of the fire hazard during extended drought periods in Florida.

 The word "xeriscape" is actually derived from the Greek "xeros," meaning dry, and "scape," a kind of view or scene. Together, xeriscaping is landscaping with slow-growing, drought-tolerant plants to conserve water and establish a waste-efficient landscape ( There is no mention of desert plants or vast expanses of rock in this definition.


Landscape Design video walkthrough Xeriscape for Florida Landscapes

This plan is for an interactive backyard filled with edibles, Xeriscape influence.

Case 092 design features:

  • Raised bed edible garden
  • Water Feature for pleasant sound
  • Outdoor family dining table
  • Fire pit for evening atmosphere
  • Pergola to escape the sun
  • Hammock for those lazy days
  • Edible trees and ornamentals
  • Wildlife plants for butterflies and birds
  • Golden Goddess bamboo for privacy
  • Outdoor shower to cool off
  • No lawn to mow

What is your ideal backyard?

This plan is for a Key West tropical paradise

Case 088 design features:

  • Poolside living area
  • Rock beds extend off pool deck
  • Fire pit area in rock bed
  • Loose pebble path out to shade seating
  • Clear view of sunset through the palms
  • Plant selections to give a tropical feel
  • Flowers throughout the year
  • Foliage plants for contrast
  • Efficient irrigation system adapted to the design
  • No lawn to mow

What is your dream landscape?