plants in a mulch bed near a pool

Central Texas Xeriscape Ideas: Beyond Desert Aesthetics

“Central Texas xeriscaping” may evoke desert imagery, but our region demands a targeted approach to xeriscape that defies this aesthetic.

In a previous post, we learned there’s no clear way to conserve resources by building a desert within a larger landscape that’s not a desert. And that the original goals of xeriscape all point directly to resource conservation.

But let’s be realistic: we all want cost-saving landscapes that also satisfy our tastes.

So Maas Verde threaded the needle. Central Texas is perched right between the desert and the deep woods — just like our Central Texas xeriscape ideas.


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1. Choose Xeriscape Plants from Texas

Pick out some native succulents like twistleaf yucca (yucca rupicola) and prickly pear for planting. The trusty prickly pear can anchor a landscape in conditions where it thrives. It not only grows plentiful fruit that’s great for making drinks — but also hosts Cochineal, one of the world’s oldest sources of red dye!

Also, the twistleaf (seen at the top of this page) is an iconic Texas species, native to the Edwards Plateau.

Take pride in the fact you’ll also be supporting the twistleaf’s main pollinator: the fairylike yucca moth. These small, wedge-shaped white moths are the pollinators all yuccas depend on. It’s a mutual benefit: the yucca flowers act as a nursery for young moths.

a small white moth inside a white flower
A yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella); (photo/Judy Gallagher via Flickr)

(If you just have to have agave or saguaro — consider keeping it potted.)

2. Use Local Limestone Boulders

These cheap, chunky, blonde- and orange-tinted stones give off a xeriscaped desert vibe. But we actually source them right here in our backyard. Maas Verde buys limestone boulders from Georgetown, where excavating crews peel them up before quarrying deeper deposits.


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Masonry, such as Boulder work, can accent your front yard xeriscape, give it structure, and help retain any erosion. Maas Verde recommends using a variety of landscape materials in all xeriscape designs — boulders, gravel, steel elements, pavers, and plants all belong.

3. Enrich Soils with Creative Xeriscape Installs

Many Texas “xeriscapes” are just gravel beds piled on weed barrier, which impoverishes the soil below. But you don’t need to use landscape fabric under every xeriscaped backyard.

The truth is, misusing or overusing this material causes soil compaction and almost never stops weeds. (Think about it — opportunistic plants can grow through cracks in asphalt or soil deposits in road gutters. A layer of fabric is not going to stop them.) It’s also rarely installed well enough to stay put.

If you do install some weed barrier beneath a gravel area, you can still place a rain garden nearby. As the garden matures, it will let water penetrate the soil not only directly under it, but also in a radiating pattern.

a dry creek for drainage with a sidewalk bridge, surrounded by plantings
(Photo/Maas Verde)

4. Party in the Shade

In Texas, one huge problem with desert-style xeriscapes is they turn into heat sinks. With no plants or mulches to absorb the scorching summer heat, sunlight bounces off every surface — which can send your A/C bill skyrocketing.

Instead, make sure trees are healthy and use them strategically. Drought-tolerant plants like Texas sage (eucophyllum frutescens) or red yucca (esperaloe parviflora) will be happy in the sunniest areas of your yard, and you can place gravel beds in shadier areas.

a front yard garden blooming with yellow flowers
Sun-loving plants in sun-splashed areas, and sheltered hardscapes for seating; (photo/Marc Opperman)

5. Get an Irrigation Diagnostic.

If you want to help your Central Texas xeriscape plants mature and thrive, you’ll need to give them the water they need. However, if you choose the right plants for the right places, they shouldn’t need much.

an irrigation sprinkler
(Photo/Texas A&M AgriLife Extension)

Make sure you’re saving as much money as you can on your water bill by scheduling an irrigation diagnostic. At the appointment, our licensed irrigators can make sure your system is running smoothly and delivering water in the right amounts.

Featured image: Young twistleaf yucca leaves grow straight at first, then begin to curl over time; (photo/Maas Verde)

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