How Much Does Xeriscaping Cost in 2024?

The typical xeriscaping cost ranges from $15,120 to $18,400, with a nationwide average of $17,000.

Xeriscaped yards can reduce irrigation needs by 50%, saving precious water and money in dry regions. The typical xeriscaping cost ranges from $15,120 to $18,400, with a nationwide average of $17,000.

Very popular in the Western half of the United States, xeriscaping is a water-efficient landscaping style. It uses rocks and mulch to trap rainwater in the ground. Mix that with drought-resistant native plants, and you get a yard that needs little to no water beyond what nature provides.

In this pricing guide, we’ll cover:

All said and done, it’s no secret that professionally xeriscaping a garden can be expensive. Homeowners pay about $5 to $20 per square foot, and the cost varies with:

  • Xeriscaping style 
  • Location and climate
  • Rockeries and plants
  • Soil quality and amendments

Most say the cost is worth it since you save long-term on water bills and garden maintenance costs. What if the budget is tight? Can you xeriscape DIY? Yes, but with some limitations. We discuss both options in this article, with cost factors and benefits to consider.

Average Xeriscaping Costs in 2024

National Average Cost$17,000
Typical Price Range$15,120 – $18,400
Extreme Low-End Cost$4,200
Extreme High-End Cost$29,500

The average American yard is about 10,080 square feet, or one-quarter of an acre, but few landowners decide to xeriscape their entire property. Since this service can be costly, the average xeriscaped area is 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, costing between $15,120 and $18,400. 

To move toward a low-cost xeriscape project:

  • Use a high percentage of affordable materials such as mulch and pea gravel
  • Reuse boulders, rocks, and wood from around the house for hardscape features
  • Seed most of the plants or buy them small instead of fully grown
  • DIY some of the labor
  • Keep the design simple

Factors to keep an eye on are:

  • Xeric (water-saving) trees and large drought-resistant plants
  • Covering large areas with boulders and rocks 
  • Custom-made hardscape features 

These can make your xeriscape look beautiful, but they come at a premium price.

All these depend on the size of the xeriscaped yard, so let’s see how square footage changes the cost.

Xeriscaping Cost Estimator by Size

You can expect to pay $15,120 to $18,400 to xeriscape a garden. Pricing includes materials and labor costs and varies widely with several factors, starting with yard size.

Cost to Xeriscape by Yard Size

The cost of installing a xeriscape garden for water conservation is $3,500 to $9,165 for a 500-square-foot area and $10,000 to $40,000 for 2,000 square feet of land. Here are some rough estimates for the most common xeriscaping project sizes.

Project SizeAverage Overall Cost
500 sq. ft.$3,500 – $9,165
1,000 sq. ft.$7000 – $18,330
1,250 sq. ft.$6,250 – $25,000
1,500 sq. ft.$10,500 – $27,500
2,000 sq. ft.$10,000 – $40,000

Xeriscaping Cost per Square Foot

It costs $5 to $20 per square foot to xeriscape a garden, but pricing varies with materials, plants, and labor rates. For example, a simple design with mulch, pea gravel pathways, affordable ground covers, and small plants will be closer to $5 per sq. ft. On the other hand, placing large boulders, installing stone pavers, and planting tall trees can raise the price to $20 per square foot.

Cost of Xeriscaping by Yard Section

Because xeriscaping can be expensive, most landowners choose to landscape only a part of the garden. They typically choose the front yard or backyard, the area around a patio, or a swimming pool. Here’s what to expect as costs if you plan such a project.

Yard SectionAverage Overall Cost
Patio Xeriscaping$2,665 – $9,500
Swimming Pool Xeriscaping$4,000 – $16,000
Front Yard Xeriscaping$7,330 – $19,665
Backyard Xeriscaping$7,330 – $28,670

Other Factors That Affect Cost

Project size impacts the cost to xeriscape a yard, but it’s not the only factor. When estimating the budget you also need to consider the following:

  • Xeriscape designer services
  • Design style
  • Installation costs
  • Xeric plants
  • Xeriscaping materials 

Xeriscape Designer Services

Hiring a landscape designer costs about $50 to $150 per hour. With xeriscaping, you can expect the fee to go up to $200 if you need the designer or architect to manage land grading, soil drainage, and irrigation systems.

Design Style

There are four main xeric landscape styles: classic, desert, cottage, and modern. Choosing is often a matter of price but also of personal preference and climate.

Desert: Imagine rocky areas mixed with succulent desert plants, such as cacti, agave, or aloe. This is what a desert xeriscape landscaping style looks like, costing $8,000 to $18,500 to install. It’s typically rich in hardscape elements that can increase the total cost. The best way to save money is by using reclaimed rocks or molding concrete slabs DIY.

Cottage: At the other end of the spectrum is the cottage garden xeriscape, with a typical cost of $11,500 to $14,000. It’s focused on colorful flowering plants and has fewer hardscape elements. Most designs installed in arid locations need drip irrigation systems. To pay less for this style, consider:

  • Growing plants from seeds
  • Buying smaller plants instead of fully grown 

Classic: Classic xeriscaping costs $10,000 to $18,330, and it’s the closest option to the natural look of your yard. A good designer will reduce lawn surfaces, increasing flower beds and areas covered with mulch or gravel. They will recommend:

  • Drought-tolerant plants native to your area
  • Buffalograss or other types of sod with minimal water requirements
  • Artificial turf (if you’re ok with that)

Modern: Modern xeriscaping looks neat and organized. This style uses gravel, stepping stones, and retaining walls to define yard areas. While it seems simple and airy, it uses enough softscaping and hardscaping elements to drive the cost to about $11,250 to $19,500.

Installation Costs

Hiring a xeriscaping contractor to install the planned landscape elements costs $50 to $100 per hour, but the total price varies with project size and complexity. Contact a local landscaping company and get an estimate for your garden for an accurate quote.

Xeric Plants

It costs about $2,330 to $4,000 to integrate drought-resistant plants, or xerophytes, in a midsize xeriscape design. The most common types of xeric plants used by landscapers are:

  • Ground covers
  • Succulents
  • Flowering plants
  • Shrubs
  • Trees

Xeric Ground Covers

Drought-tolerant ground covers cost $2 to $45 per plant. According to Colorado State University, this category includes low-growing plants less than 24 inches tall that spread easily by themselves. 

Ground covers function like natural mulch, shading the soil and keeping it moist and cool. They also add texture and colors, level sloped areas, and reduce soil erosion. Here are some popular ground covers to consider for your project and the cost per square foot for each.

Drought-Tolerant Ground CoversAverage Cost Without Installation
Juniper blue$8 – $45
Pussytoes$8 – $15
Moss phlox$7 – $13
Creeping phlox$8 – $15
Japanese spurge$2 – $4
Creeping thyme$6 – $16
Woolly yarrow$10 – $12
Kurapia$2 – $8 per square foot


Succulent desert plants cost $6 to $175 each. They have a mucilaginous interior tissue that stores water, helping the plants thrive in dry climates. These xeric species can get by with only natural rainwater and need minimal watering.

Succulents for XeriscapingAverage Cost Per Plant (Without Installation)
Houseleeks$6 – $13
Cacti$6 – $175
Sedum$6 – $16
Aloe Vera$5 – $25

Most succulents are perennial, so they can be a one-time investment if you plant them correctly.

Xeric Flowering Plants

If you want color in your garden, the cottage xeriscaping style with lots of flowering plants suits you best. Drought-resistant flowers cost about $3 to $5 per packet of seeds, depending on the size of the pack. You’ll pay more if you want organic or choose to plant bulbs or seedlings.

Succulents for XeriscapingAverage Cost Per Seed Packet (Without Installation)
Perennial alyssum$4
California poppy$3

Drought-Resistant Trees

The cost of planting a tree in your garden ranges from $150 to $1,850, including transportation and labor. Trees protect the soil from direct sunlight and heat, limit water evaporation, and keep the ground cooler. They are also a long-term investment and – according to the University of Washington – can increase property value by up to 3 to 15%. 

Here are some of the most popular drought-resistant woody trees to choose from:

Xeric TreesAverage Cost (Without Installation, for Trees 2 to 7 Feet Tall)
Kentucky coffee tree$30 – $180
Hackberry$30 – $70
Golden rain tree$70 – $140
Bur oak$35 – $155
Dawn redwood$40 – $45

The average price of a xeric tree, without installation, ranges from $30 to $180 if bought from a tree nursery. You can save by:

  • Choosing smaller plants available at Lowe’s and Home Depot, depending on the species
  • Waiting for discounts – most nurseries take 20% to 45% off during the off-season

Xeric Shrubs

Drought-resistant shrubs cost $12 to $90 per plant without installation, depending on their size and variety. The smaller the plant, the more money you’ll save. But you’ll have to wait for the shrubs to grow to enjoy their full height.

You can use shrubs to create green fences and private spots or to give depth to your garden design. See below some popular shrubs for xeriscaping and the price for each.

Drought-Tolerant ShrubsAverage Cost Without Installation
Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa)$18 – $62
Lantana camara$10 – $30
Evergreen sumac$12 – $40
Russian sage$18 – $28
Southern wax myrtle$13 – $90
Japanese holly$17 – $70
Siberian peashrub$13 – $55
Sand cherry$20 – $56
Euonymus$12 – $35

Before moving on to hardscape materials, here’s an article that can help you landscape using color theory like a pro for your new xeriscape design.

Xeriscaping Materials

The main materials used in developing a drought-tolerant garden are mulch, rocks and stones, gravel, and artificial turf. Hardscaping typically takes the biggest toll on your xeriscaping budget, so knowing how to finagle these elements can be a good way to save money. 

These are the comparative costs of the four main categories of xeriscaping features:

Xeriscaping MaterialsAverage Cost (Without Installation, Unless Stated)
Mulch$30 – $110 per cubic yard
Gravel$25 – $67 per cubic yard
Artificial Turf$5.45 – $20 per square foot (with installation)
Boulders and Stones$50 – $130 per ton


Mulch costs from $30 to $110 per cubic yard or 75 square feet with a 4-inch thick layer. It’s affordable, easy to use, and reduces the cost of xeriscape installation and maintenance. Spreading mulch across flower beds and free soil:

  • Keeps the ground cooler
  • Helps water absorption and prevents evaporation
  • Limits weed growth

To save time, hire a professional to spread the mulch for you. Installation costs $20 to $45 per cubic yard or $55 to $90 per hour. To save money, spread it DIY and consider looking for sources of free mulch.


Gravel costs range from $25 to $67 per cubic yard or $4 to $7 per bag, without installation. If you’re getting a professional to install gravel, expect to pay around $14 to $69 per hour.

Prices vary depending on shape and size, with pea gravel being the most affordable. Gravel does the same excellent job as mulch in allowing water to pass through and trapping it in the soil. But gravel degrades more slowly than organic mulch. You can install gravel on pathways or patios, and it fits like a glove in a modern xeriscape design.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf is an excellent option if you’d rather not wait for xeric ground covers to grow and spread or if you want a huge, beautiful lawn in an arid location. It costs $5.45 and $20 per square foot to install synthetic grass, and it looks green and lush all year round.

Rocks and Stones

The price of rocks and stones ranges from $50 to $130 per cubic yard and varies with type and size. Lava rocks, river rocks, flagstone, cobblestone, and brick are the most popular. 

Rockeries add depth and dynamic to your outdoor space and help prevent water evaporation. They also increase the total cost fast, especially boulders. To keep the budget under control:

  • Use reclaimed stones and rocks 
  • Consider molding concrete slabs DIY

Related Services

There are a few related services you need to consider when estimating your budget. The most common connected with xeriscape installations are:

  • Yard Grading
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Soil Testing
  • Soil Amendments
  • Xeriscaping Maintenance

Yard Grading

Xeriscaping requires aerated soil with good drainage and a perfect slope to control water flow and to be easy to work with. This is done by grading sloped land for a cost of $100 to $3,400, often paid separately. A grading permit might be necessary, adding $90 to $470 to this part of the project.

When grading an area, landscapers remove topsoil and reshape the dirt beneath. This changes the slope angle and improves drainage. In the end, fresh topsoil is returned and leveled.

Drip Irrigation

It costs $1.70 to $4.80 per square foot to set up drip irrigation. Many landowners install it for prolonged droughts to water more sensitive plants. Whether your xeriscaped garden needs it depends on the following:

  • Soil quality
  • The xeric plants you choose to grow
  • Location and climate

With drip irrigation, water drips at the base of each plant, so evaporation and water waste are minimal. This makes drip irrigation more efficient than a sprinkler system.

Soil Test

A basic soil test costs anywhere from $15 to $60 and will help determine: 

  • The type of xeric plants that can grow best on your land
  • What soil amendments to use to enrich nutrients and improve texture

If you want more detailed information about your soil, you will need to pay extra.

Soil Amendments

On average, adding soil amendments to your garden costs about $80 to $175. Xeriscape landscaping contractors use them to:

  • Reduce runoff and improve soil texture and water-holding capacity
  • Add nutrients
  • Alter the soil’s pH

Good quality soil retains moisture and reduces irrigation needs and maintenance costs.

Xeriscaping Maintenance

Xeriscaped gardens need less maintenance than traditional landscapes. The specific things to take care of occasionally are:

  • Irrigating during prolonged droughts and adjusting the system for seasonal changes in rainfall
  • Checking the yard for pooling water or dry spots 
  • Trimming and pruning trees and shrubs to help them keep their shape and grow healthy
  • Removing debris and weeds

Most pros charge between $50 to $100 per hour to maintain a xeriscape. You can also hire a pro to clean up your yard from time to time for $174 to $436.

Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost

Professionals do a better job of installing water-efficient gardens. Such a project requires specific knowledge about soil, native plants, drainage, and irrigation systems. For example, boulders and rocks must be placed to allow water absorption and prevent heat islands. Plants with similar water needs should be in the same area to facilitate efficient watering. 

All said and done, if your budget is tight, you can still try to put in place a xeriscaped yard DIY. Just keep it simple. You can start by reading our guide on xeriscaping for beginners. We also prepared below some estimated costs for tools, materials, and plants for a 500-square-foot project, which you can use as an example to prepare your own budget.

DIY EquipmentAverage Cost
Rake$25 – $65
Garden hose$38
Measuring tape$18
Marking paint$10
Sod cutter (rental for 1 day)$18
Compactor (rental for 1 day)$95
Total Cost of Equipment$305 – $418

It costs you about $305 to $418 to put together the tools you need for preparing the yard and installing xeriscaping elements (assuming you don’t already own some of these tools).

You’ll also require hardscape elements and xeriscape plants. Here’s a list with estimated costs for a 500 sq. ft. yard with a 25-by-2-foot gravel pathway and a cottage-style xeriscape design.

DIY Xeriscaping MaterialsAverage Cost
Path edging$200 – $550
Pea gravel$46
Mulch$120 – $440
Landscape fabric$10 – $43
Xeric trees (2 trees)$60 – $360
Ground covers (Kurapia for 200 sq. ft.)$400 – $1600
Houseleeks (10 plants)$60 – $130
Cactus (3 plants)$18 – $525
Aloe (2 plants)$10 – $50
Xeric flower seeds (3 packets)$9 – $15
Boulders and rocks (1 ton)$50 – $130
Total Cost of Materials and Plants$983 – $3,889

The cost of materials and plants for DIY xeriscaping a 500 sq. ft. yard is about $983 to $3,899. Remember this is only an example, and prices can change with added plants and hardscapes.

DIY Equipment Cost$305 – $418
DIY Materials and Plants Cost$983 – $3,899
Total DIY Cost for Xeriscaping 500 sq. ft.$1,288 – $4,317
Total PRO Cost for Xeriscaping 500 sq. ft.$3,500 – $9,165

The total DIY cost, including equipment, is $1,288 to $4,317, while a professional installation for the same yard size is priced between $3,500 to $9,165. The difference is not only in labor costs but also in the choice of design and landscape features. It’s worth finding a local contractor and checking the professional cost for your project before starting a DIY installation.

Note: If you have some extra money, invest it in a few hours with a professional xeriscape designer checking your ideas. Also, invest time and research thoroughly the most suitable local drought-resistant plants.

Cost of Xeriscaping by Location

Where you live plays a vital role in xeriscaping installation costs. For starters, labor and materials are cheaper in rural areas than in cities. 

Costs also vary with state and local climate. The western half of the United States has water-saving landscape rebates. This type of program is used in drought-affected states such as:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Utah

Homeowners in these states receive financial rewards for converting their turf and gardens with low water-use landscaping, such as xeriscaping. For example, in Santa Monica, a family could receive $3.50/sq.ft. (up to $6,000) in 2024 to replace turf grass with mulch and drought-tolerant plants.

The rebate given for converting to a xeriscape or other drought-tolerant landscape is almost always different from the rebates given for installing smart irrigation systems. If you want to earn more money and conserve water, consider buying one of these irrigation systems, controllers, or add-ons:

FAQ About the Cost of Xeriscaping

What are the Disadvantages of Xeriscaping?

While it has a lot of benefits, xeriscaping also presents some disadvantages, such as:

  • High price – with a cost of $5 to $20 per square foot, xeriscaping can be expensive to install. 
  • Little to no lawn – even with native ground covers, xeriscaping lacks the green, soft, lush look of natural grass lawn. 
  • Overall sparse look – large areas with rocks, gravel, and mulch can make the design seem barren.

How Do You Xeriscape on a Tight Budget?

Here are some tips for xeriscaping on a tight budget:

  • Use organic, homemade nutrients to amend the soil.
  • Use homemade compost to mulch areas you won’t add plants to. 
  • Do the installation labor yourself.
  • Try to include only reclaimed hardscape materials. 
  • Use seeds and plant divisions from your friends and neighbors, or buy tiny seedlings. 
  • Choose plants that are non-invasive but spread fast. 

How Long Does It Take to Xeriscape a Yard?

Depending on the square footage and landscape features, it can take one to two weeks to finish xeriscaping a midsize yard. 

Where to Hire a Pro to Xeriscape Your Yard

It costs $15,120 to $18,400 to install a xeriscape garden that allows native plants to thrive with less water. This price includes materials, plants, and installation and can go up or down depending on the yard’s size, design style, and location. While a xeriscape can be rewarding, it takes a lot of effort to convert your yard into one.

To get a xeriscape without the pain, find a local contractor who provides xeriscaping near you.

Note: LawnStarter may get a referral fee for matching you with contractors in your area.

Main Photo by: Rawpixel

Janine Caayao

Janine Caayao

Janine Caayao has always been fascinated with growing plants, from fruits and veggies to bonsai trees and orchids. Now, she’s interested in urban gardening with her family. She loves finding new tips and tricks to keep their plants thriving.