November 29, 2016

The Drab to Fab Backyard Rehab landscape has finally been installed for our winner, Lisa O. at her Avondale home! While our past videos featured irrigation systems, planter boxes, and patio pavers, we all know it’s THE PLANTS that are the most important component of a fabulous Xeriscape landscape.

In episode 8 of our 10-part series, Cathy Rymer from City of Chandler did a great job talking about the plant selection, design tips, proper planting and staking techniques and more.

Here are some other important considerations:


Use a variety of plant types like a palo verde tree for shade, hesperaloe for accent, and purple lantana as a colorful and softening ground cover.
  • Be sure to first check with your homeowners’ association CC&R’s to determine if there are plant selection restrictions for your neighborhood.
  • Plants native to the Sonoran, Mohave, or Chihuahuan deserts often perform best (all deserts found in the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico). Plants native to deserts from other continents (i.e. Africa or Australia) can or will also perform well.
  • Anticipate future growth and mature size when selecting plants to ensure you are placing the right plant in the right place.
  • Select and group plants with similar water needs to create a landscape that is easier to maintain and more water efficient.
  • Use a variety of plant types (trees, shrubs, groundcovers and vines) to provide functionality like shade, screening, softening boulders or walls, and don’t forget to create focal points of interest with the use of accent plants like cactus or agaves.
  • Avoid planting one of every plant you like; it will tend to look like a botanical garden. Use the same plant in different locations of the yard to unify the look.


  • To avoid damage to underground utilities, be sure to call Arizona Blue Stake Center two working days before you plan to dig by dialing the three-digit number, 811.
  • Dig a hole for each plant that is three to five times wider but no deeper than the plant’s root ball.
  • Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with or just a bit above the soil surface (especially important for trees).
  • If the roots are compact or circling the container, score the root ball or loosen the roots around the circumference of the plant. This helps the roots to spread to the adjacent soil after planting.
  • Make any necessary irrigation system adjustments to ensure that water is going to the root ball of each plant.
  • Spread a thin layer of organic mulch on the surface of the soil around each plant, but keep the mulch two to three inches away from the plant stem or tree trunk to avoid disease problems. The organic mulch can then be covered with rock mulch.

Now that the plants are in, what’s next? While Xeriscapes are known as low maintenance, that doesn’t mean ‘no’ maintenance. Learn all about proper watering, pruning, fertilizing and more in our next video!

When planting, loosen any roots that are winding around the pot or tree box.
Top planting area with organic mulch before topping with rock or granite.







Find these helpful links on planting:

If you missed Parts 1 through 7 of our series, visit our Drab to Fab page to meet our winner and watch as she begins the processes of transforming her yard from Drab to Fabulous!