7 xeriscaping ideas to try instead of having a lawn

These designer-approved xeriscaping ideas are lovely and low-maintenance

Xeriscaping ideas are useful. Here are three of these - a rock garden with three green spiked succulent plants, a backyard with brown interlocking slabs, a black fence, and white door, and a meadow garden with colorful flowers
(Image credit: Getty Images / Ava_Marie / ProCreators / Jacky Parker Photography)

Trying xeriscaping ideas may be for you if you want a backyard that doesn't require much know-how or muscle-power to maintain.

Xeriscaping is all about not needing water irrigation, which means getting creative with your outdoor space. We've asked designers and landscaping experts what you can do, from creating picturesque meadow gardens to zen-like rock gardens.

If you're exhausted from looking for lawn care advice and would much rather go for something that looks great without so much effort, these pro tips will help you get started.

Easy breezy xeriscaping ideas 

For those wanting to learn how to xeriscape, these low-maintenance landscaping ideas are ideal for keeping your backyard looking beautiful without breaking too much of a sweat.

“Xeriscaping offers a greener approach by utilizing native plants, efficient irrigation methods, and smart design techniques to conserve water, reduce maintenance, and enhance curb appeal,” explains Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design. 

We've rounded up useful products throughout and created an xeriscaping essentials kit at the end, in case you want to get started on yours ASAP.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Meadow garden

A meadow garden with yellow, purple, blue, and white flowers dotted all round it and green grass in between it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jacky Parker Photography)

Bring cottagecore design to your backyard ideas by creating a meadow garden perfect for picnics and lazy summer days.

“Replace your lawn with a wildflower meadow filled with native grasses, perennials, and wildflowers,” says Nina. “Meadows provide habitat for pollinators and wildlife while requiring minimal watering once established."

To get started, you can grab a bag of wildflower seeds such as the Pennington Wildflower Meadow Lawn Seeds from Walmart, which has flowers that will attract hummingbirds into your backyard and covers 500 sq. ft.

Doing this will also help you bring the sustainable landscaping trend into your yard this year.

2. Drought-resistant plants

A cluster of black-eyed susan flowers with yellow petals and black centers, with brown grass out of focus behind it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Dorte Fjalland)

When choosing plants for your xeriscaping landscape, be sure to go for ones you won’t have to tend to. 

“One of the fundamental techniques in xeriscaping is the selection of native and drought-tolerant plants,” says Joe Gerrior, landscaping expert and founder of Gerrior Masonry & Landscape Construction Corp.

“In Massachusetts, for instance, we often use plants like Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, and Little Bluestem,” he explains.

Little Bluestem in particular is a great choice for those looking to plant ornamental grasses, and is budget-friendly too. For example, the Seedville Little Bluestem Seeds from Walmart are just $3, have 300 seeds in the pack, and can grow up to 42 feet.

These plants require minimal watering once established, making them ideal for conserving water while maintaining a vibrant landscape.

3. Hardscaping features

A backyard with brown and gray interlocking paving on the ground, a black wooden fence with shrubbery growing on it and below it, and a white wooden door to the right of this

(Image credit: Getty Images / ProCreators)

As well as choosing beautiful, resistant blooms, you can also incorporate hardscaping features into your xeriscaping ideas to bolster water conservation. 

Joe says, “Using permeable materials such as permeable pavers and gravel pathways helps reduce runoff and allows rainwater to seep into the ground. In our projects, we often use Unilock products, which not only provide durability but also support sustainable landscaping by enhancing permeability."

By choosing interlocking paving, you will reduce the need for irrigation and complement the natural water cycle. You can harness rain water by ditching your down spout, replacing with a rain chain, and placing a water barrel at the bottom (such as this 50-gallon water butt from Amazon).

4. Rock garden

A rock garden with three large green spiked succulents in the middle and moss and gray rocks around them

(Image credit: Getty Images / Ava_Marie)

Do you go to your backyard for peace and quiet? Make it an even more calming place to be by turning it into a Japanese-inspired rock garden.

“Create a striking rock garden using drought-tolerant succulents, cacti, and ornamental grasses,” Nina suggests. "Arrange rocks of varying sizes to add texture and visual interest to your landscape."

You can use rocks from your existing backyard to do this and decorate them with succulents such as the Costa Farms Desert Escape Pack from Walmart, which thrive in direct sunlight and require minimal maintenance. 

5. Natural mulching

A collection of light and dark brown wood chip mulching on the ground

(Image credit: Getty Images / Detailfoto)

By choosing interlocking paving, you will reduce the need for irrigation and complement the natural water cycle.

Mulching is one of the most popular xeriscaping ideas that Joe uses, saying it’s “vital” when using this technique in backyards. 

“Applying organic materials like wood chips or bark around plants can significantly reduce water evaporation, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature,” explains Joe. 

“This practice ensures that moisture stays in the soil longer, benefiting plant health during dry periods,” he says.

Look for ones made from natural materials instead of rubber, such as the Oldcastle Timberline Pine Bark Nuggets from Walmart which suppress weed germination and are long-lasting.

6. Xeric ground covers

A backyard with large light gray stones forming a curved path with dark green moss surrounding it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Hi-Point)

If you’ve removed the need to learn how to mow a lawn but still wish to have a touch of greenery in your space, these are clever alternatives.

Nina suggests, “Plant low-growing, water-wise ground covers such as creeping thyme, sedum, or moss to replace traditional turf.”

These plants form dense mats that suppress weeds — useful for those who have battled with killing weeds in their lawn and want to keep them at bay — and require minimal watering.

7. Effective irrigation systems

A thin black pipe attached onto a gray stone wall with a large rock to the left of it and pink flowers and green leaves to the right

(Image credit: Walmart)

It’s not only important to think of aesthetic designs when it comes to xeriscaping ideas, but is key to remember practical features too.

“I always advocate for the use of efficient irrigation systems like drip irrigation and soaker hoses,” Joe says. “These systems deliver water directly to the plant roots, minimizing water wastage due to evaporation and runoff."

An easy way to do this with is by bringing in tubing, such as the Orbit Irrigation Black Universal Drip System Tubing from Walmart pictured above which extends from the feed line to the plant base and is UV-resistant.

Xeriscaping essentials to shop

If you feeling inspired by these xeriscaping ideas and want to bring them into your place, these items, cherrypicked by us for their function, style, quality and price, will help you off to a flying start.

With these xeriscaping ideas, you can create a sustainable and visually captivating landscape that enhances your backyard’s aesthetic and reduces your environmental footprint. 

“Whether you opt for a meadow garden, succulent showcase, or rock gardens, you can turn your outdoor space into a beautiful and bio diverse oasis,” Nina finishes by saying.

Many of these are also great budget backyard ideas, as they don’t require lots of plants or products to maintain.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.