By Kate De Palma
Here in California, there’s always the possibility of drought. So, instead of having lush green lawns that take hundreds of gallons to keep green (you’re looking at 250 gallons/week just for a 20-by-20-foot), many Californians are switching to more water-wise approaches to their yards. Luckily, we don’t have to sacrifice style for saving water thanks to attractive, water conserving plants and drought tolerant landscaping. What are drought tolerant plants, you may be asking, and why should you consider them for your yard?
Californians are not alone in our quest for ways to save water in the garden. Even if you don’t live in a zone susceptible to heat or drought, water efficient plants are still a great way to save water and money. Here are seven of the most popular water-conserving plants that’ll make your landscaping look top-notch without using so much H2O.
If you’re ready to try gardening with less water, lavender is a good place to start. A lovely and fragrant option to bring into your yard, lavender is great because it can be used in so many different ways – edging, hedges, containers, herb gardens, and more. With over 450 varieties, there are lots to choose from here, depending on what kind of height or blooming season you’re looking for. While all lavender types are drought- and heat-tolerant, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) with its deeper purple blooms and signature “rabbit ears” and the long-blooming English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) are popular varieties that will thrive without much water.
I can’t talk about water saving plants without mentioning succulents in all their water-conserving glory. Succulents, noted for their fleshy water-storing leaves, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Plus, they’re super easy to take care of, making them great plants for the beginning gardener. With over 25 families of succulents and many more individual species, you’ve got a lot to choose from with these guys. Some of the most popular varieties include aloe, agave, and Senecio. Whether you want an entire succulent landscape or just want to add some interest to your garden, if you’re serious about saving water, these architectural gems are just the thing.
Whether you’re going for a Mediterranean garden or a coastal garden, phormium is a must-have. Also called New Zealand Flax, phormium is a type of evergreen perennial with long, sword-like leaves coming in an array of dramatic hues from red to yellow to black. Create a strong sense of architecture in your landscaping with this eye-catching plant that just needs occasional water. Phormium tenax (“Bronze Baby”) and Phormium hybrids (“Yellow Wave”) are popular options that’ll add drama and color to your landscape.
Commonly known as Beardtongue, these hardy wildflowers come in a whole host of colors from pale pink to purple to deep ruby. Every gardener’s dream, these drought-tolerant flowering plants are easy to care for and propagate, and they require infrequent watering once they’re established. Hummingbirds love them, and they’re super resilient. Mix and match varieties for year-round color. What’s not to love?
You may recognize Rudbeckia hirta by its more common name: Black-eyed Susan. This versatile, drought-tolerant plant will fill your garden with lovely golden flowers while attracting butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. For a smart water saving garden design, plant your black-eyed Susans near your lavender, which will act as a repellant against deer and other wildlife that may eat your pretty blooms.
This water-efficient perennial includes over 100 species in the Asclepias genus. While it gets a bad rap because it can be toxic to animals if consumed in large quantities, according to the USDA, most animals will only eat milkweed if food is scarce. In reality, it’s an important resource for the environment, especially when it comes to bees and butterflies. Fun fact: milkweed is the one and only plant the caterpillar of the renowned Monarch butterfly will eat. Unfortunately, a large percentage of wild-growing milkweed has disappeared thanks to urban development and pesticide use across the country. Luckily, you can plant milkweed in your yard and let it do double-duty helping the Monarch butterfly thrive while saving water too.
According to legend, this medicinal plant (scientifically called Achillea millefolium) was named for Achilles for using it to tend to his soldiers’ wounds in battle. Used for thousands of years in folk and alternative medicine, this water-wise plant is an awesome addition to your garden. Even if you don’t use it for its medicinal properties, you’ll love it for how resilient and low-maintenance it’s. Enjoy its decorative foliage and summer blooms in borders, cottage gardens, and raised planters.
Need more help designing your garden? Looking for other ways to save water? House Tipster’s got you covered with lots more helpful House Tips that’ll help your garden grow (and keep a little extra money in your pocket!).
Images used with permission, courtesy of Kate De Palma and www.shutterstock.com