Learn about ways to maintain a beautiful, sustainable yard in a way that conserves water.

Water-wise gardening, also known as xeriscaping, is a way to have a vibrant, environmentally friendly garden using plants and materials that help conserve water.

Benefits of water-wise gardening

Conserves water

By using drought-tolerant plants, water-wise gardens may use up to 50% less water than traditional lawn-based gardens. As we see more and more drought conditions from climate change, reliable water supply may become more challenging over time.

How much water you can save

Determining the precise amount of water savings can be challenging. The amount you save depends on your current watering practices, the type of lawn and plants you have, and the specific conditions of your site.

As a general guideline, water wise garden with lawn alternative may only require approximately ½ to ¾ inch of water every other weeks or even less to develop strong roots. After roots are developed, no or minimum watering is required.

Saves money

By reducing your water consumption, you'll also see savings on your water bill, making water-wise gardening not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective.

The gardens also tend to adapt to adverse weather conditions and resist pests and diseases so you don’t need to spend money on replanting.

Low maintenance

Many drought-tolerant plants require less maintenance compared to traditional garden plants, saving you time and effort in the long run.

Promotes biodiversity

Water-wise gardens attract a variety of local wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects, creating a thriving ecosystem in your yard. Learn about Surrey’s biodiversity conservation goals.

Cool ground cover

Water-wise plants keep the ground cool, improve soil permeability, and aid in regulating the water cycle.

Getting started with a water-wise garden

See how to create a stunning water-wise garden that conserves water, supports local ecology, and provides a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space for you and your family.

1. Plan the garden

Consider your local climate, soil type, and sun exposure.

2. Consider grass lawn alternatives

Lawn alternatives may help reduce water consumption, require minimal maintenance, and enhance the overall appeal of your landscape. See more about lawn alternatives below.

3. Choose the right plants

Select native plants that suit your conditions. You can typically find native plants at local nurseries.

Explore the Grow Green Guide to browse through diverse varieties that suit your garden design.

4. Group plants with similar watering needs

This simplifies watering and avoids overwatering some plants while underwatering others.

5. Mulch your garden

Mulch helps retain moisture, protect plants from frost, and provide nutrients to the soil.

Mulch doesn’t last forever. Replace mulch when you notice signs of decomposition, soil erosion, or discoloration.

Organic mulch can last 3-4 years but some types break down faster and require replenishing every 1-2 years.

6. Water deeply and infrequently

Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings to encourage deep root growth.

7. Use efficient irrigation

Consider drip irrigation systems that deliver water directly to the roots, minimizing evaporation.

Grass lawn alternatives


Clover is lower-maintenance and less watering needs compared to common grass.


Combining clover and turf

Clover may be sown directly onto an existing turf lawn.

Combining grass and clover creates a more diverse and resilient lawn. Clover fixes nitrogen in the soil, benefiting both itself and the surrounding grass. Nitrogen is essential for healthy plant growth. Clover also typically stays green in drought conditions keeping your lawn greener while the grass turns golden.

Reseeding clover

Clover requires reseeding every few years. However, if the clover is mixed with other grasses, like mixed lawn seed, it may reseed itself, so typically no or minimal reseeding is required.

Note: Blooming clover attracts bees and other pollinators, which is essential to food web and encourage biodiversity. If you have children who play on the lawn, you may want to consider Dutch white clover, a type that has fewer flowers.

Mixed lawn seed

Mixes contain various seeds such as clover, yarrow, fescue, chamomile, and perennial ryegrass. These plants are typically more tolerant to dry conditions and more resistant to pests like the chafer beetle than common grass.

mix of grass and flowers

Native ground cover and other low growing plants

These are well suited to local conditions and support local wildlife while still creating a pleasing lawn alternative.

diverse mix of groundcover plants