The Albuquerque metro area has a variety of landscapes. These include desert-friendly landscapes, such as lush, pollinator-friendly xeriscapes, and wildscapes or prairie plantings, where native grasses and wildflowers bring the feel of a prairie to a yard. Rain gardens are specifically designed to make the most of natural precipitation, while edible landscapes have garden beds or edible plants interspersed throughout them. Efficient turfscapes have smaller areas of turfgrass and diverse plantings. Conventional turfscapes with large areas of cool-season grass and high-water foundation shrub plantings are no longer considered desert-friendly landscapes. Desert-friendly landscapes describe a variety of landscapes that include beautiful, diverse plantings with increased resiliency achieved through efficient watering.

A sea of gravel may require little water, but it does not create a healthy environment. Weed fabric doesn’t prevent weeds from growing on top of the fabric and has been proven to be detrimental to soil and tree health in the long term. Trees struggle if they have been part of a yard that was once heavily irrigated and has been converted to a gravelscape. We do not recommend gravelscapes for reducing water use. Instead, transform those landscapes into cooler, healthy environments by adding appropriate plants and irrigation.

Desert-friendly landscapes make a positive contribution to lowering the urban heat-island effect, which is caused by heat emitted off surfaces including gravel, concrete and asphalt. This heat causes an updraft within an urban setting, which changes the weather patterns over a city and decreases the chances of precipitation and cooling. Plants, especially trees, help decrease or eliminate this heat island effect.

Desert-friendly landscapes help reduce noise pollution by absorbing sound. Desert-friendly plantings also increase biodiversity in your yard and in our community, generating much-needed pollinator habitat. Xeriscapes, particularly once they are established, use significantly less water than a conventional turfgrass lawn. Did you know that Albuquerque is a designated Bee City USA? To find out more, go to: Burque Bee City USA ( For more information on pollinator gardens, go to ABQ Backyard Refuge Program (https:// To find out about rebates that help homeowners transform their yards into desert-friendly xeriscapes, visit:

Xeriscapes have been largely misrepresented and misunderstood over the past 30 years, often being mistaken for zeroscape (a.k.a. no plants). What xeriscape really means is a native, desert-adaptive or desert-friendly landscape that often feels lush and vibrant and has plants that are appropriate for the Albuquerque climate. It attracts all kinds of wildlife and changes with the seasons.

Pro Tips for Using Drip Emitters in Xeriscapes:

• Always have more than one emitter per plant in case one becomes clogged. • Switch from adjustable micro sprayers and “shrubblers” to individual emitters or in-line emitted drip lines to know exactly how much water is being provided to your plants. • When using drip or other low-flow irrigation, accommodate plant needs by adjusting the flow rate (larger or smaller gph) and number of emitters per plant. • Drip irrigation is the best way to water plants that do not like getting their leaves wet. With drip emitters and ¼” spaghetti tubing, water can be placed exactly where it is needed.

Xeriscapes often include trees, shrubs, flowering “pollinator-friendly” perennials, desert accents, groundcovers, ornamental grasses and vines. They also can contain small functional turf areas, vegetable beds and other edible plants. Xeriscape plants are medium or low-water usage plants. Some can survive with rainwater alone after an establishment period of at least three full irrigation seasons. Adding trees to a desert-friendly xeriscape increases shade and habitat, creates favorable microclimates and reduces the urban heat island effect in Albuquerque. When deciding which tree to use in  a particular place, refer to our Xeriscaping Guide or The Nature Conservancy’s Climate Ready Tree List.


This budget is only for outdoor use. Please include your winter averages to complete your TOTAL usage on your billing. For typical xeriscape landscapes with 500 square feet of NATIVE grass lawn (warm-season grasses) and two medium trees

Learn more here:

Make this the Year that you replace your thirsty lawn with a desert-friendly xeriscape.

Best Practices for Watering with a Drip Irrigation System

Xeriscape not Zeroscape: Water conscious landscaping can be luscious and beautiful

Author:  Have a question about the article?