The rest of Holly's yard isn't a xeriscape, but she takes pride in how much less water it needs than people assume it does, given how verdant it looks. She switches on her sprinkler system a few times each week for about 20 minutes per irrigation zone. "My mom and I have learned that 'shoehorning in' plants close together reduces the need for water and weeding," she says. Conventional advice cautions gardeners against placing plants too close, on the theory that it will lead to disease. But in Denver's dry climate, Holly hasn't had a problem. Close spacing also creates spectacular displays, especially when plants are arranged in drifts. "A friend of mine once said that I subscribe to the 'big bang theory' of gardening," Holly says. "My mom describes it as a village of plants all holding hands in support of one another. I think both are good descriptions."
Shown: A wood pergola shelters a daybed at one end of the brick patio that homeowner Holly Fliniau built off the breezeway to the garage. The bed backs up to a board fence that she shares with her neighbor. Colorful potted plants mark the outdoor room's entrance and soften the structure's beefy support posts.