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Xeriscaping Cost

Xeriscaping Cost

National average
$17,085
(xeriscaping a 1,200 sq.ft. yard with drought-tolerant plants, a micro-spray irrigation, and a walkway)
Low: $6,000

(drought-tolerant plants, mulching, no irrigation system)

High: $24,000

(drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and plants, rainwater collection system, drip irrigation and hardscaping)

Cost to xeriscape a yard varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from landscapers in your city.

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Xeriscaping Cost

National average
$17,085
(xeriscaping a 1,200 sq.ft. yard with drought-tolerant plants, a micro-spray irrigation, and a walkway)
Low: $6,000

(drought-tolerant plants, mulching, no irrigation system)

High: $24,000

(drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and plants, rainwater collection system, drip irrigation and hardscaping)

Cost to xeriscape a yard varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from landscapers in your city.

The average cost of installing xeriscaping is $17,085.

How Much Does It Cost to Xeriscape?

Xeriscaping 1 is a form of gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental watering. The method has a strong focus on incorporating native, drought-tolerant plants into the landscape and arranging them in a water-saving fashion.

The very term ‘xeriscaping’ gives some insight into the process. The Denver Water Department, Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, and Colorado State University were the first to introduce the term and formalize the process. It comes from the Greek word ‘xeros,’ which translates “dry” and the word ‘scape,’ which refers to a landscape’s patterns.

The average cost to xeriscape a yard ranges from $16,000-$18,000, with the average homeowner spending around $17,085 for xeriscaping a 1,200 sq.ft. yard with shrubs, groundcovers, plants, and the placement of rocks in key locations to promote water conservation.

Xeriscaping Installation Cost

Xeriscaping installation costs
National average cost$17,085
Average range$16,000-18,000
Minimum cost$6,000
Maximum cost

$24,000


Xeriscape Cost per Square Foot

The cost of xeriscaping 1 a landscape is normally calculated by the sq.ft., and includes the labor, plants, and supplies needed to complete the landscape. The cost per sq.ft. to xeriscape a space ranges from $5-$20.

Below is a table that outlines the cost of xeriscaping a variety of common yard sizes. Many people opt to xeriscape their entire landscape, but others choose to only do a small section, or perhaps only the front or back yard.


Xeriscape Cost per Square Foot Chart

Xeriscape Cost per Square Foot Chart


Yard sizeCost
500 sq.ft.$5,500-$7,500
1,000 sq.ft.$11,000-$15,000
1,250 sq.ft.$13,750-$18,750
1,500 sq.ft.$16,500-$22,500
2,000 sq.ft.$22,000-$30,000


Xeriscaping Cost per Hour

When undertaking the process of xeriscaping 1, you should work with a pro because they understand the water needs of the region’s native plants and also have a firm grasp of the designs needed to achieve water conservation, such as the placing of rocks or hardscaping in a specific area to divert water. The average cost of hiring a landscaper to xeriscape any area is $50-$100 per hour.

The first step in creating a xeriscape landscape is determining an acceptable irrigation system 2 and installing it. Then the appropriate plants selected by the landscaper are placed around the area. If turf is going to be added the landscaper would lay out a predetermined area. They will also focus on the placement of rocks and boulders around the property. Rocks and boulders help reduce evaporation, provide shade, assist with water diversion, act as natural mulch, and look eye-catching. Hardscaping and lighting are usually the last things to finish in an xeriscaped yard.

Cost to Xeriscape a Yard

The cost to xeriscape a yard varies depending on the size, plant choices, hardscaping, irrigation, soil, mulch, and any necessary irrigation. In addition, you might want to hire a planner/designer to figure out the layout beforehand. The average cost to landscape 1,200 sq.ft. is $17,085.

Below is a table that outlines the steps of xeriscaping a landscape. Not all steps are required, though. Some people opt to not use artificial turf, concrete slabs 3, or mulch 4, which are all optional, but popular, choices.


Cost to Xeriscape a Yard

Cost to Xeriscape a Yard


Xersicaping StepsCost (1,200 sq.ft. yard)
Planning and design$200
Mulch$685

Concrete slabs

$1,200
Native and drought-tolerant plants$3,000
Soil rocks/stones$3,000
Artificial turf$4,000
Irrigation (micro spray)$5,000


Planning and Design

A landscape designer who lays out the landscape design can charge up to $200 per hour for consultation, planning, and design work. Xeriscaping is about more than planting drought-tolerant plants and laying out a few rocks. If too many rocks are placed on a southern- or southwestern-facing location then they can substantially increase the temperature and wastewater, plus potentially contribute to water runoff. Careful planning is essential in xeriscaping to conserve water use.

Mulch

Mulch is often beneficial in a xeriscape because it helps hold in water and prevents evaporation. The cost to deliver 500 sq.ft. of mulch averages $200-$500. Delivery of a cubic yard of medium grade hemlock mulch averages $145-$185.


Mulching being installed


Concrete Slabs

Installing concrete slabs 3 to form a walkway through the landscape for a 1,200 sq.ft. yard averages $1,200. The slabs not only help divert water, but are also ideal for walking across as a possible pathway.


Stone walkway in a rock garden


Native and Drought-tolerant Plants

Plants that are adapted to the region will substantially reduce water use and typically require no supplemental irrigation. You can easily spend $3,000 on established plants that thrive in the area, but prices do range considerably based on the size and types of plants.

Soil and Rock/Stones

Often the landscape is not flat, lacks topsoil, or a different pitch is necessary to utilize the rainfall correctly, making it necessary for new soil. Delivery of soil ranges from $100-$2,000. River rock can also be used as a mulch and to divert water in the landscape. Delivery of 20 sq.ft. of river rock averages $600-$1,000.


Japanese rock garden with plants


Artificial Turf

Grass is water-hungry, so replacing it with artificial turf conserves water. The cost to install 400 sq.ft. of artificial turf on a 1,200 sq.ft. yard averages $4,000.


Artificial turf


Irrigation

An irrigation system 2 is an option with xeriscaping. Many people want to forego any supplemental water and depend solely on rainfall. However, if you want to water your plants when needed rather than risk losing them to an excessively hot season then you’ll want to try drip irrigation systems. A drip irrigation system runs up to $3,000-$5,000 for professional installation.

Xeriscaping Plants

Xeriscaping involves the use of highly drought-tolerant and indigenous plants in place of water-hungry varieties and excessive turf. Drought-tolerant plants grow well in desert locations, and indigenous plants are native to the region where you will be xeriscaping 1 so have adapted naturally to the climate and annual rainfall amounts. Their unique adaptations mean that, once established, they require no supplemental watering but can subsist on rainfall alone. Your landscape designer will help you choose plants that are best suited for your hardiness zone.


Plants for Xeriscaping

Plants for Xeriscaping


Plants

Drought-tolerant plants such as hens and chicks (a type of succulent), aloe vera, and sedum are very popular because they store water in their leafy fibers for use during times of drought. Cacti also store water and can go long periods of time without any form of irrigation or rainfall. Ornamental grasses are naturally tough and subsist on very little water but rainfall.​


Aloe vera in a xeriscaped yard


Plant TypeCost
Sedum$7-$8 for a 2.5 quart size plant
Hens and chicks$11-$12 per six pack
Aloe vera$9-$10 for a 2.5 quart size plant
Cacti$20-$80 depending on size and type
Native grasses$10-$30 depending on size and type


Groundcovers

Groundcovers are often moss and lichens. The creeping growth pattern of groundcovers can help prevent soil erosion. Also, they help to keep areas cool and hold on to water, acting as a natural mulch 4. Pussytoes and woolly yarrow are favorites.


Japanese spurge against a gray wall in a xeriscaped yard


Groundcover TypeCost (a quart size)
Pussytoes$3-$4
Red creeping thyme$8-$9
Wooly yarrow$12-$13
Juniper blue rug$16-$17
Japanese spurge$16-$17


Shrubs

Shrubs that require very little care are ideal for any xeriscape 1 project. The shrubs create shade and visual interest in the landscaping. Ideally, you should choose varieties that vary in size and shape. If they grow well in the shade then you can plant them beneath trees and in other areas to cool the soil and act as a natural groundcover.


Russian sage next to green grass


Shrub TypeCost
Russian sage$6-$7/5 inch pot
Siberian peashrub$24-$25/1 gallon size
Sand cherry$39-$40/3 gallon size
Yucca$68-$70/1 gallon size
Sumac$85-$87/2.5 gallon size


Trees

There are a wide array of drought-tolerant trees that are excellent in the xeriscape, but many do require supplemental watering during the first few years of growth to encourage a robust root system. Once established, the trees can subsist on very little water.


Hackberry tree


Tree TypeCost
Northern catalpa$12-$13/24 inch tree
Dawn redwood$12-$13/24 inch tree
Bur oak$12-$13/24 inch tree
Hackberry$12-$13/24 inch tree
Kentucky coffee tree$20-$21/2-3 foot tree


Cost of Irrigation for Xeriscaping

Many people who xeriscape opt to depend on rain, which is why they plant only native or drought-tolerant plants. However, others feel that the investment in plants is substantial so they want an irrigation system to prevent the plants from perishing in extremely dry weather. The most common type of irrigation system 2 for a xeriscape is a drip, but there are other types that are potential options.


Irrigation System Prices

Irrigation System Prices


SystemsCost
High flow system$0.21-$1/sq.ft.
Surface irrigation$0.38-$0.46/sq.ft.
Drip irrigation$2.50 to $4.50/sq.ft.
Micro spray irrigation$2.50 to $4.50/sq.ft.


Surface Irrigation Cost

Surface irrigation is a low flow system considered a cross between a sprinkler system 2 and drip irrigation. It relies on applying water to the roots of the plants, but not in a precise fashion like the drip irrigation system does. The soil is flooded with water and sloping helps ensure that the water flows towards the plants. The average cost of installing surface irrigation is $0.38-$0.46 per sq.ft.

Drip Irrigation Cost

A drip irrigation system 2 is a low flow system that supplies the roots of the plants with drips of water. It is by far the most efficient irrigation system and considered superior to all other forms. Drip systems are exceptionally water-efficient and considered low-flow systems that rely on drip emitters and drip lines. In addition, the system reduces unwanted weed growth. The average cost of installing drip irrigation is $2.50 to $4.50 per sq.ft.


Drip Irrigation System


Micro-spray Irrigation Cost

The micro-spray is a low flow system that functions in a similar fashion to the drip irrigation system. It uses small sprinklers which are drip irrigation emitters that spray a fine mist onto key areas of the landscape. It is also a low-flow system and considered the second-most efficient irrigation system for a xeriscape following the drip irrigation system. The average cost of installing a micro-spray irrigation system is $2.50 to $4.50 per sq.ft.

High Flow Systems

High flow systems are sprinkler systems 2, fixed spray, impact, bubbler, rotor, and soaker hose. These systems all rely on high outputs of water to saturate the ground quickly. No high flow system is acceptable for a xeriscape, where the focus is always on water conservation. High flow systems are used for expansive turf, water-hungry landscaping, or field plant cultivation.


Inground Sprinkler System

Xeriscaping Cost Factors

When xeriscaping 1, there are a number of cost factors to take into consideration. For some, you can cut corners to save money, but there are others you might want to splurge on. Everyone has their own unique vision. Also keep in mind that regional requirements vary considerably when xeriscaping.

  • The number of hardscaping elements: using natural hardscaping choices such as rocks and boulders saves a considerable amount of money because you might already have the material on hand. Adding artificial rocks or concrete slabs 3, however, is clearly going to increase the cost substantially. Other natural hardscape items such as driftwood, seashells, pebbles, old metal objects, and fallen trees are often free or cost very little and work well in rugged xeriscape decor.
  • Size of the yard: xeriscaping an acre of land instead of 1,200 sq.ft. is certainly going to increase the cost of the project.
  • Size of the plants: if you can wait for plants to grow then you can save a great deal of money by choosing small plants instead of large ones. Savings are especially substantial for trees and large shrubs. However, many types of xeriscaping plants take a long time to grow so you might not want to wait years for your landscape to naturally fill out.
  • Irrigation system: a drip or spray irrigation system 2 does cost more than other irrigation options, but you will save a considerable amount of money by conserving water, which is also the entire point of xeriscaping.
  • Custom additions: Custom additions such as concrete slabs, lighting, and a rainwater collection system are completely optional and will increase the cost of your xeriscaping project substantially. For example, rainwater systems average $2,500, outdoor lighting averages $3,500-$4,500, and concrete slabs for a 1,200 square foot yard can cost $1,200.

What are the 7 Principles of Xeriscaping?

There are seven principles that go into xeriscaping. The distinct landscaping technique first emerged in the 1980s as a way for people to save water and still enjoy gardening during long periods of drought in the Western United States.


Xeriscaped front yard with dry creek bed


Planning and Design

The first step in xeriscaping is the planning and design stage. Most importantly, you will want to utilize the area’s natural rainfall so you can limit the need for irrigation. Map out the yard before you start the process of creating the landscape. Always consider which areas receive shade and sun so you can pick your plants and hardscape accordingly.

Improved Soil

When xeriscaping, you want to improve the soil’s consistency so it can better hold water during times of drought. Adding compost 4 to the soil definitely helps its water-holding abilities. If the soil is firmly compacted, then you’ll want to rototill the dirt to break it up so water does not run off during rain or with irrigation, but instead sinks down to the plant’s roots. Also, a plant’s roots develop better in loose soil which allows the plant to more readily reach both water and air.

Smart Turf Use

Yes, turf has a place in xeriscaping 1. It makes a great surface for children and pets to enjoy while helping cool the environment. In addition, it combats soil erosion and even lessens the glare of the sun. However, you should always limit turf use and only use types of grass that are drought tolerant. Bluegrass does very well with little water.

Efficient Irrigation

During the first few years, you’ll need to irrigate to establish your plant's root system. Once established, you can usually forego the irrigation. Ideally, you should opt to use drip irrigation or micro-spray to focus the water where it is needed the most. Also, such methods help encourage deep and diverse root system development.

Appropriate Plant Selection

Low water-use plants are a necessity in any xeriscape yard. Often, native plants are the best choice because they have adapted to thrive in the region and can subsist on rainfall alone.

Mulching

Mulch helps the soil hold in water during times of drought so your plants don’t dry out and start to perish. Applying mulch 4 also helps prevent soil erosion and stop the spread of weeds.

Appropriate Maintenance

A xeriscaped landscape is not maintenance-free. You will have to prune, weed, and irrigate during the first year or two and focus on pest management on an ongoing basis to keep everything looking good.

Pros and Cons of Xeriscaping

As with all landscaping choices, there are pros and cons. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of xeriscaping to decide if it is right for your unique needs.

The biggest positive thing about xeriscaping is that it conserves water, which is ideal in drought prone regions. It is also an environmentally-friendly landscaping system that requires very little maintenance and no fertilizer applications to look fantastic. Typically, homeowners with xeriscaping also enjoy an increased property value.

The cons of xeriscaping are that you have a very limited choice of plants to choose from that are either native or drought-tolerant. Moreover, the first couple years of establishing the landscape are labor intensive and expensive.

Xeriscaping on a Budget

If you are xeriscaping 1 on a budget then you can try to DIY as much of it as you can. Doing some of the physical labor and planting the plants yourself can save a considerable amount of money.

  • Minimize hardscaping to save money. Hardscaping is an expensive endeavor.
  • Plant seeds or cuttings instead of high-cost fully developed plants since you can purchase seeds for a couple of dollars a pack, but fully grown plants can cost a great deal more.
  • Pick non-invasive plants that spread readily via self seeding so you don’t have to buy as many plants to fill an area. Also, you can always dig up the small plant starts and move them around the landscape to other locations.
  • Make your own mulch instead of buying pre-packaged mulch from a home improvement store to save money. Making your own mulch is also environmentally friendly.

Xeriscape Maintenance

Xeriscape landscapes are not maintenance-free. During the first couple of years you’ll need to use some form of irrigation system 2 to help your plants develop a strong root system. You’ll also need to regularly weed the flower beds to prevent weeds from taking over while you wait for your plants to grow. If you have turf, you might need to regularly clip the grass to keep it looking good. Plants also require pruning while they grow and applications of mulch if it washes away. Landscapers offer xeriscaping maintenance and charge $50-$100 per hour.

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Cost to Build a Pergola

A pergola 5 adds definition and shade to any yard. It is a place to seek solitude and respite from the heat and the afternoon sun. The cost to build a pergola is $2,500-$6,000, depending on the size and design.

Deck Installation Cost

You can construct a deck that is attached to your house or simply freestanding in your yard. A deck is a great place to enjoy outdoor time and lounge away the hours. The average cost to build a deck is $17,200-$19,000​.

Arbor Installation Cost

An arbor 5 is an ideal structure of vines and other climbing plants. It can also create a transition in the landscape and outline the walkway. The cost to build an arbor averages about $2,000.

Cost to Build a Fire Pit

A fire pit creates ambiance in any landscape. You can huddle around it during a chilly night, or cook s’mores with the family. The cost to build a fire pit is about $300-$1,400.

Outdoor Light Installation Cost

As the days grow shorter, you’ll still want to enjoy time outdoors. Lighting helps you spend even the dark hours outside while helping to showcase your landscape with well-spaced lights. The cost to install outdoor lights averages $3,500-$4,500.

Cost to Install Outdoor Water Spigot

An outdoor water spigot lets you irrigate by attaching a hose, as well as providing a place to simply wash your hands or garden equipment. The cost to install an outdoor water spigot is about $225.

Cost to Build a Patio

A patio is a great place to enjoy summer barbecues and other outdoor activities. The cost to build a patio is about $4,930 for a 12’x13’ brick paver 6 patio.

Cost to Build a Porch

Many people enjoy a porch to sit on and look out over their xeriscape 1. It also adds value and aesthetic beauty. The average cost to build a porch is $21,440 that is a 16’x20’ wrap-around porch with a gable.

Mosquito Misting System

Mosquitos are pests that you probably don’t enjoy. The biting insects can quickly send you scurrying for your house to seek shelter. The average cost for a mosquito misting system is $2,500 for a drum system with about 30 nozzles.

Cost to Install a Rainwater Collection System

If you are serious about xeriscaping 1 then you know the importance of rainwater in drought-ridden areas. You want to collect as much of the liquid gold as possible to irrigate your plants. The cost to install a rainwater collection system averages $2,500. If you are learning how to xeriscape on a budget, the rainwater collection is a definite must.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Xeriscaping can be a partial or complete DIY project. You’ll need to layout a design, pick drought-tolerant plants, determine hardscaping, think about an irrigation system 2, and then spend many hours planting, moving soil, mulching, and more.
  • If you decide to let a professional handle xeriscaping your landscape then you’ll want to obtain three to five estimates from a xeriscaping contractor to determine your area’s average price so you can pick the best-qualified contractor for the job.
  • Many areas that regularly experience drought may offer rebate programs that help you save when you decide to xeriscape 1 your landscape. You’ll want to check with your local water and energy departments to determine if there are any area rebates if you decide to xeriscape.
  • If you xeriscape in the spring then your plants will have the entire spring, summer, and fall to get established and develop a firm root system before winter. Also, xeriscaping in the spring in a drought-prone area gives your plants time to enjoy the spring rains for growth before the heat and drought of summer arrive.

FAQ

  • How much does drought-tolerant landscaping cost?

The average cost to xeriscape your yard and make it drought tolerant averages $15,600 for a 1,200 sq.ft. yard.

  • How do you xeriscape your yard?

You choose drought-tolerant plants, some hardscaping, mulch 4, and a water-saving irrigation system. You can use a small amount of turf, but you want to get rid of any water-hungry plants. Ideally, a xeriscaped landscape will grow and flourish without supplemental irrigation, or at least with very little after a couple of years.

  • What is the purpose of using xeriscape in your yard?

You want to conserve water, embrace the natural landscape appearance, and find drought-tolerant plants that will thrive if there is no irrigation.

  • What is xeriscape landscaping?

Xeriscaping 1 refers to a form of landscaping that focuses on water conservation.

  • What are the benefits of xeriscaping?

Once established, a xeriscaped landscape requires very little or no irrigation and thrives with virtually no maintenance compared to other landscapes.

  • Where is xeriscaping used?

Xeriscaping is often used in areas of the American West that are prone to drought.


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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Xeriscaping: Landscaping so as to avoid the need for watering by using native or drought-resistant plants, paving stones and gravel, and other methods to create an attractive yard that is ideal for dry climates or environmentally friendly in any area
glossary term picture Sprinkler System 2 Irrigation system: (Also known as Sprinkler system) Set of equipment used to irrigate lawns
glossary term picture Concrete Pad 3 Concrete slabs: A flat area of concrete that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a patio or a driveway
4 Compost: (Also known as Mulch) A natural substance derived from plant, animal, or mineral matter that is added to soil in order to make it more fertile
glossary term picture Pergola 5 Arbor: (Also known as Pergola) An arched structure with an open roof and cross rafters, supported by posts or columns, typically installed in a garden, park, or backyard and usually covered with climbing plants or vines.
glossary term picture Brick Paver 6 Brick paver: Bricks that can be laid together in a pattern to create a path or patio

Cost to xeriscape a yard varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Xeriscaping with native and drought-resistant plants, paving stones and gravel

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Abilene, TX
-14%
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Anchorage, AK
+35%
Ashland, NH
+22%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Aurora, CO
+10%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Coldwater, MI
-21%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fremont, CA
+35%
Hartford, CT
+23%
Honolulu, HI
+35%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntsville, AL
-17%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irvine, CA
+23%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Lancaster, CA
+4%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Laurel, MT
-12%
Lehi, UT
-25%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Pensacola, FL
-19%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Port Saint Lucie, FL
-18%
Raleigh, NC
-3%
Reno, NV
0%
Sacramento, CA
+8%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
Saint Paul, MN
+20%
Salt Lake City, UT
-6%
San Antonio, TX
-4%
San Diego, CA
+11%
San Francisco, CA
+53%
Labor cost in your zip code
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