What are the advantages and disadvantages of xeriscaping versus traditional landscaping?

Xeriscaping is a unique landscaping technique. The term xeriscape was coined in 1978 by the Denver Water Department. Essentially, a xeriscape is a rock-based landscape that is designed to be drought-tolerant. Xeriscapes and traditional (grass-based) lawns differ greatly. There are several key advantages and disadvantages of each type of lawn.

Today we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages each type of landscape has to offer so that you can make an informed decision on which type of landscape will work best for you.

Ready to get started? Let’s go…

Xeriscaping- Advantages vs. Disadvantages

Xeriscaping is most common in water-restricted environments such as Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. However, a xeriscape can be created just about anywhere. So what are the main advantages and disadvantages of each?


According to WikiLawn’s assessment, the main advantage to xeriscaping is that xeriscapes are very low-maintenance. You won’t have to worry about cutting the lawn, fertilizing, aerating etc. The only maintenance you really have to worry about is keeping the weeds away.

Secondly, a xeriscape uses very little water and is largely drought-tolerant. This makes xeriscaping a hit in the midwest, regularly drought-stricken areas and for homeowners that want to keep their water bill low.


Xeriscapes can be expensive to install. Though the cost will differ greatly depending on the types of rock you want to use, and their availability in your location, in general the cost of installing a xeriscape is significantly higher than a traditional lawn.  Additionally, if you want to set up irrigation, you should do so beforehand as installing it after your xeriscape can be a hassle. These factors make the up-front cost of a xeriscape very high, and unaffordable for many people.

Another huge downside is you can’t exactly play sports or games on a stone based landscape, so your lawn may lose a lot of functionality. Finally, if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of trees, getting rid of leaf litter can be a nightmare in the fall. You can’t exactly use a rake on most xeriscapes, and a leaf blower can only remove so many leaves. Some leaves are bound to get stuck in between the rocks in your landscape. For many homeowners, this is a huge turnoff.

Traditional Lawn- Advantages vs. Disadvantages

We all know the traditional grass lawn. That classic, lush, green grass that many Americans admire and love. These types of lawns have a long history, going back as early as the 12th century. During this time they were primarily used to play sports on, but the industrial revolution made it possible for nearly everyone to have a lawn of their own. However, there are certainly some downsides to this type of landscaping too. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the traditional lawn.


Perhaps one of the biggest upsides of the traditional grass-based lawn is that your lawn will maintain full functionality. Grass-based lawns are much better to hang out in with family and friends, especially if you like to play sports or games with your friends that involve the lawn. More importantly, these lawns are much more child-friendly than a xeriscape, and you won’t have to worry as much about a child hurting themselves on your lawn.


Furthermore, for those that prefer a vibrant green lawn, there is no beating the traditional grass lawn. Best of all, for those concerned about finances (who isn’t), a grass-based lawn is much cheaper to install all around. Traditional lawns require little planing, minimal labor, and material costs are relatively low. Finally, many homeowners simply enjoy their grass-based lawns more, and enjoy maintaining their lawns as it is a great excuse to be outdoors.


One of the biggest disadvantages for the grass-based lawn is maintenance. A lot of maintenance. Although they are much cheaper to install, the maintenance they require greatly exceeds that of the xeriscape. It is certainly no secret that there is a lot of work involved to maintain a healthy grass-based lawn. From spring to fall, there are many tasks you must do to maintain the traditional lawn. Aerating, fertilizing, and most importantly mowing are only the beginning of maintaining a traditional lawn.

Additionally, the traditional lawn takes up a lot more water, and may simply not be an option for those that live in water-restricted areas.  The final downside of a grass-based lawn is that your lawn may not have grass during parts of the year depending on your climate.

What’s the Verdict?

The type of lawn you decide is best for you depends a lot on your location, climate, budget and how you want to use your lawn. In some places having a traditional lawn is simply not an option, in others, it’s the only way to go. Whichever lawn you chose, be sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each before making a decision. If you make up your mind to install a  xeriscape, be sure to plan it correctly! Failing to properly plan your lawn, especially when xeriscaping can lead to major headaches down the road.


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