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Xeriscape Principles
Help Create Beautiful Outdoor Living spaces That Save You Money

Southwest summers demand an aggressive approach to outdoor living design. Anyone who has lived through a blistering-hot Arizona summer knows that a yard full of rocks not only drives you indoors but skyrockets cooling bills and besides, who wants to be inside during the summer?

The good news is that you can save money, do your part for global warming and create delicious outdoor spaces using Xeriscape principles.

Contrary to popular belief, in the right hands these principles, which amount to an intelligent interaction with the outdoor landscape, create lush outdoor environments that use little water. In fact, it's not uncommon for Xeriscaped yards to have small areas of lawn, usually grown using native, drought-tolerant grass varieties.

"Turf can be appropriate especially if it's in a spot that's going to create cooling for outdoor living space", said Yavapai County Cooperative Extension Agent Jeff Schalau.

The key, according to Schalau is to create zones in your yard, planting the periphery in plants that require little or no water and placing trees and flowers that require more water and provide more beauty, cooling and cover closer to the house and around spaces you plan to use for outdoor living.

Here are some plants to consider near the patios where you'll be doing your cooking, eating and entertaining:

For added pizzazz, consider hanging lights in the trees or installing a water feature (also great for birds and wildlife!). Water features, along with colorful containers of flowers also serve as focal points for outdoor rooms. And container gardens allow for more flexibility in choosing plant species in areas of the country that freeze when it gets cold, just bring them inside.

Incorporating Xeriscape principles into your planning for outdoor living spaces is a must in hot, dry climates. It not allows you to save water and money on cooling costs, but most importantly, it increases your quality of life by allowing you to ditch the moonscape and get back in touch with nature.

Amy Snyder is the interior designer at Sun Pine Homes, a custom home builder and developer in Prescott, Arizona. Sun Pine's current project is developing the Canyons at Granite Park, a residential community first founded in 1905 and filled with 1.5 billion-year old boulders. For photos and more information, please visit

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