How to Xeriscape Your Backyard and Save Money

Justin Bananagus
by Justin Bananagus

Today we are going to crush boomers’ dreams of having the most perfect lawn. I actually tore mine up! I spent a week removing all the grass around my house in favor of xeriscaping instead. If you wonder what xeriscaping is, you’re not alone.

Xeriscaping is defined as landscaping that needs little to no irrigation. Some people like the appeal of grass, but for me, it was an unnecessary expense. I also live in a state that’s already dealing with droughts and the effects of climate change. Instead, we had xeriscaping ideas that we put into action.

What is xeriscaping?

What was our motivation? 

The big three reasons why we went with xeriscaping are climate change, saving money (that is, our water bill, see above), and repurposing our time. 

We didn’t get anything out of having a lawn and we didn’t see a purpose for it. To us, it was just a large patch of non-native grass. So we decided to replace it with a covering of bark and some other decorative items.

This means we aren’t using water for strictly superficial reasons. We’re also not paying that excess surplus during the summer to water something superficial. Additionally, we don’t have to spend time taking care of a lawn that’s not there. 

During the summer months, we spent about $30 to $40 extra on water every single month just to make sure the grass was alive for HOA reasons. Over the course of the summer, which lasts about five months, we ended up spending a little bit more than $150 to water our grass.

Xeriscaping takes a lot of work

Digging up the grass was a ton of hard work. It took us about seven to eight hours to dig up our existing lawn. I can’t tell you exactly how much that pile weighed when we were done, but it was a lot. 

After we dug it up we had to get some metal lawn edging which cost about $40 and we got some additional rock to round out the front of the yard which cost about $20.

Xeriscape ideas

Backyard xeriscape ideas

Materials we used for xeriscaping

We put down the tarp material and then the bark. The tarp we had left over. It took us about four hours to put down the bark.

How & why to xeriscape your yard

Costs and time to xeriscape 

If you look at it all together, it was about $186 for all the materials. And, it took us about 11 hours of our own labor to get the job done.

By comparison with how much water we spend every summer on just the grass, you can see that this year is going to be more expensive to do xeriscaping but next year and every year after that we’ll be making back our money that we would otherwise be spending on grass.

We will probably add some plants or shrubs and some decorative boulders which will cost a little bit more.

They say millennials don’t want to work anymore and I kind of actually agree with that sentiment. We don’t want to work for stuff that doesn’t make sense anymore. That’s how I’d rephrase it. And one of those things is the lawn.

For us, the lawn didn’t have great value. Having a big patch of green non-native grass in your front yard doesn’t do anything for me, it just wastes money. It’s just so easy to not water and replace the lawn with something more practical.

How & why to xeriscape your yard

Would you xeriscape your yard? Do you think my new 'lawn' is ugly? Tell me about that, too, in the comments! 

Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • Love this info! I am also in a high drought area and had already revamped many areas around my home to be low to no water consumption. And will doing more in the coming year. I do have pets so keeping a small patch for the dogs, cats, canary, dragon and turtle. But anything else is fair game!

    One tip, check with your water supplier. They have various programs to help with changing grass over to a native landscaping. And will actually give the homeowner money to do so. Check it out before starting a project. Might be easier than one imagines if they do a little bit of homework!

  • P P on Dec 30, 2022

    consider listing your grass as sod for sale on your local craigslist -someone might come pay you money if they haven't figured out xeriscaping is the answer! Also, consider installing drip irrigation lines for future shrubs, even for flowers in pots, before putting down gravel and or bark!