Although xeriscaping (xeros = dry) originally related to landscaping in extremely dry climates, its principles, which include using water-efficient and drought-tolerant plants, fit well with conservation goals. For example, using regionally adapted plants ensures that the plant can handle this area's seasonal temperatures and rainfall, along with other environmental and soil conditions. But non-natives can also be used to add color and texture to the garden, especially those which are suited for dry, sunny locations.

Xeriscaping does not mean using only colorless plants; it does mean using the right plant in the right place. It is a water-wise landscape using colorful flowers, plants and trees as a water-saving alternative to grass.

Principles of Xeriscape

Planning and design -  Successful xeriscapes begin with a good design that considers the function of the landscape and the mature size and water needs of the plant.  Consider the view, slope, exposure and soils of the area. Take into account the existing vegetation and topography of the site and intended use. Decide where things will be. Decide when things will be done. Most landscapes are best done in phases.
Soil improvements - Soils can vary within any site. Use organic matter to improve the soil when planting. This will improve root development, water penetration and retention. It also feeds nutrients to your plants. Improve the soil before planting and installing the irrigation system.
Appropriate turf areas - Locate grass only in areas where it provides functional benefits like family recreational or children's play areas. Keep grass away from sidewalks, walls and fences for easier maintenance. Avoid planting grass in oddly shaped areas that can't be watered and maintained efficiently.  The reduction or elimination of high-water-use turf areas, and locating them separately so that they may be watered more efficiently, can result in significant reductions in water use.
Low water-use plants - Most plants have a place in Xeriscape - even those that have high water needs. Plant selection should be based on the intended use in the landscape. Use of more plants with low water needs and native plants will allow the maximum water conservation. Some provide shade and screening, others are perfect for borders and accents.
Efficient irrigation - Irrigation systems should be well planned. Irrigate grass areas separately from other plantings. Group plants with like water needs, and water each group on separate zones. Not all plants need the same amount of water. Irrigate according to the needs of the plants rather than watering on a fixed schedule. Even plants used in Xeriscape will require supplemental irrigation until they become established. Change the irrigation schedule with seasonal weather changes.
Surface mulches  - Use mulches to cover and cool the soil, decrease evaporation, reduce weed growth and slow erosion. Organic mulches such as bark chips or wood shavings will decompose slowly over time, but it will improve the soil by adding nutrients. Inorganic mulches like rock and gravel should be used sparingly. Surrounding a home with rock will increase the temperatures.
Appropriate maintenance - A landscape adapted to the environment will require less maintenance, less fertilizer and less pesticides and other chemical use than traditional landscapes, but some regular maintenance is required. Proper pruning, weeding, fertilization and pest control will preserve and enhance the quality of your xeriscape. Irrigation system maintenance and adjustments help save water.


Permaculture defined (source Wikipedia)

 Modern permaculture is a system design tool. It is a way of:

looking at a whole system or problem;
observing how the parts relate;
planning to mend sick systems by applying ideas learned from long-term sustainable working systems;
seeing connections between key parts.

In permaculture, practitioners learn from the working systems of nature to plan to fix the damaged landscapes of human agricultural and city systems. This thinking applies to the design of a kitchen tool as easily to the re-design of a farm.

Permaculture practitioners apply it to everything deemed necessary to build a sustainable future. Commonly, “Initiatives ... tend to evolve from strategies that focus on efficiency (for example, more accurate and controlled uses of inputs and minimization of waste) to substitution (for example, from more to less disruptive interventions, such as from biocides to more specific biological controls and other more benign alternatives) to redesign (fundamental changes in the design and management of the operation) (Hill & MacRae 1995, Hill et al. 1999)." "Permaculture is about helping people make redesign choices: setting new goals and a shift in thinking that affects not only their home but their actions in the workplace, borrowings and investments" (A Sampson-Kelly and Michel Fanton 1991). Examples include the design and employment of complex transport solutions, optimum use of natural resources such as sunlight, and "radical design of information-rich, multi-storey polyculture systems" (Mollison & Slay 1991).

"This progression generally involves a shift in the nature of ones dependence from relying primarily on universal, purchased, imported, technology-based interventions to more specific locally available knowledge and skill-based ones. This usually eventually also involves fundamental shifts in world-views, senses of meaning, and associated lifestyles (Hill 1991)." "My experience is that although efficiency and substitution initiatives can make significant contributions to sustainability over the short term, much greater longer-term improvements can only be achieved by redesign strategies; and, furthermore, that steps need to be taken at the outset to ensure that efficiency and substitution strategies can serve as stepping stones and not barriers to redesign...” (Hill 2000)



Permaculture Design: The core of permaculture has always been in supplying a design toolkit for human habitation. This toolkit helps the designer to model a final design based on an observation of how ecosystems interact. A simple example of this is how the Sun interacts with a plant by providing it with energy to grow. This plant may then be pollinated by bees or eaten by deer. These may disperse seed to allow other plants to grow into tall trees and provide shelter to these creatures from the wind. The bees may provide food for birds and the trees provide roosting for them. The tree's leaves fall and rot, providing food for small insects and fungus. Such a web of intricate connections allows a diverse population of plant life and animals to survive by giving them food and shelter. One of the innovations of permaculture design was to appreciate the efficiency and productivity of natural ecosystems, to use natural energies (wind, gravity, solar, fire, wave and more) and seek to apply this to the way human needs for food and shelter are met. One of the most notable proponents of this design system has been David Holmgren, who based much of his permaculture innovation on zone analysis.



Permaculture in the City: