Did you know that you can cut your water use by up to 50% or more just by using drought-tolerant plants instead of thirsty ones? Using plants that require less water doesn’t mean sacrificing color or variety either. It’s simply a matter of doing a little homework before your next trip to the nursery.
Now don’t expect to replace a water hog with an exact duplicate that requires 50% less water. But, there are options that can give you a similar look along with a significant reduction of water use in your landscape. And, please understand the term “once established”. It may take supplemental watering from a few weeks to several years before a plant, tree or shrub can be left to Nature’s will and there may be situations where additional water will be needed to survive a prolonged drought.
Bear in mind that nothing replaces good soil preparation to ensure the best performance of anything you plant. Amend the soil with plenty of organic material to provide natural nutrients and proper drainage. One thing drought-tolerant plants don’t want is “wet feet” for a prolonged period…and use mulch religiously! Not too much. Three to four inches is enough to insulate the soil, discourage weeds and protect your plants from diseases splashing up from the soil below. For keeping unwanted or harmful chemicals at bay choose mulch certified by the Mulch & Soil Council. Look for their seal on the package.
The list below is by no means exhaustive but can get you well on your way to thinking and planning for a beautiful low water use garden. The Internet of course has copious amounts of information but no matter what area of the country you live in, there is a county Extension Office that can recommend drought tolerant plants especially suited for your garden conditions. (find one near you )
Annuals for Sun
Amaranthus (Amaranthus tri-color)
Dusty Miller (Senecio)
Geranium (Pelargonium X hortatum)
Portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora)
Spider plant (Cleome)
Coneflower (Echinacea, Rudbeckia)
Lamb’s Ears (Stachys)
Plants for dry shade
Ferns (Christmas, Male fern)
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum)
Althea (Hibiscus syriacus)*
Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
Hollies (Ilex species)
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
*A note of caution! Depending on where you live a plant may be invasive in your area but not in another part of the country. Since we do not need to encourage invasive plants visit these sites www.invasives.org or www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov to see if you might be at risk of introducing an unwanted plant into your garden.