Drought resistant front yard landscaping

OK, so California isn’t the only state going through a water shortage. At least 30 states in the U.S. currently have some level of drought, ranging from “abnormally dry” conditions in Florida and Massachusetts to the “exceptional drought” currently happening in California and Nevada. (How’s your state faring? You can check using the NOAA’s U.S. Drought Monitor.)

If you live in more one of more than half of the states on the list, water conservation is probably a high priority for you, but honestly, conserving water doesn’t mean you have to live with a dry and neglected garden. And it’s not the only reason to swap your water-loving lawn for a more drought-tolerant landscape. Today’s low-water gardens aren’t just smart and in vogue; they’re downright gorgeous.

These 5 drought-tolerant landscaping ideas look so fresh and modern that they’re an inspiration — even if water conservation isn’t your first goal.

1. Replace your grass with artificial grass.

Image: Cato Creative

Grass is the largest water waster in the yard and it’s the most high maintenance item. On top of the watering there’s the mowing, mulching, aerating, fertilizing and re-seeding or re-sodding. Artificial grass doesn’t have to look like a neon green professional football field, either. There are a lot of realistic artificial grass options with varying amounts of multi-colored hatch.

2. Replace your grass with gravel and stone.

Artificial grass looks more like the real deal than ever before, but a gravel, stone and paver garden gives the garden a contemporary, minimalist look. It’s still low maintenance (and requires zero water) and is a great counterpoint to succulents and a fire pit.

3. Use succulents in your garden design ideas.

Image: Petite Pots

We can’t get enough of them and the way combining many different types in the same garden adds amazing texture and color.We’re particularly obsessed with aloe, burro’s tails, and hens and chicks.

4. Plant ornamental grasses.

Many types of grasses that aren’t your average green blanket lawn grasses are drought-tolerant and perfect for a low-water garden. Some of the most beautiful and low water ornamental grasses worth adding are:

  • Little Bluestem (grey-green blades that go to shades of purples and red)
  • Fountain Grass
  • Blue Oatgrass
  • Purple Fountaingrass
  • Blue Fescue
  • Pampas Grass

When planting grasses, mix it up: Use both tall and short grasses along with a few of the more colorful grasses thrown in for pop.

5. If you can’t live without flowers, go with perennials.

It’s possible to create a colorful drought-tolerant landscape simply by selecting the right assortment of succulents and colorful grasses. But if you love seeing flowers in your landscape, go for perennials that are sturdier and require less water:

  • Blanket flower (red, yellow and orange daisy-like flowers)
  • Russian Sage (fragrant, delicate silver leaves with fine lavender-color flowers)
  • Yarrow (normally yellow flowers, but there are other color varieties available)
  • Salvia (bold crimson-red blooms)
  • Lavender (fragrant and colorful)
  • Kangaroo Paw (exotic plant with beautiful, bright red, orange or yellow velvety flowers)

How lucky for us that drought-tolerant landscaping can be modern and inspiring? Which will you be trying in your backyard or landscape design?

Design a Beautiful Drought Resistant Yard

By Linda Ly

Hot weather and drought-like conditions don’t mean a beautiful yard and garden is out of reach. Learn everything you need to know about drought tolerant landscaping, including the best type of plants, grass, trees and shrubs to plant and how to care for them, even in extreme weather conditions in the heat of summer.

  • Best Time to Water Plants in Hot Weather
  • Ideal Drought Resistant Plants
  • Drought Resistant Grass Types
  • Drought Resistant Grass Alternatives and Ground Covers
  • Water Saving Tips
  • Xeriscaping Ideas

Best Time to Water Plants in Hot Weather

By watering at the right times, you can reduce the amount of water landscaping needs without sacrificing beauty. Too many gardeners subscribe to the idea the more water, the better. But in reality, up to 40 percent of water dedicated to landscaping is actually wasted. Watering at the right time, and in the right way, can ensure plants survive a drought without wasting water.

The best time to water plants in hot weather is during the cool early morning hours between 6 – 10 a.m. Watering during the coolest time of the day allows moisture to soak deeply into the ground rather than evaporate. Instead of overhead watering , which can lead to water evaporation and wasteful runoff, use a watering nozzle or soaker hose to direct water where plants need it the most – at their roots. This method also keeps disease at bay, since moisture from a watering can or sprinkler can cling to overhead leaves and encourage fungal growth.

Ideal Drought Resistant Plants

Drought tolerant landscaping can be both beautiful and easy. Hardy trees and shrubs that are drought resistant are a perfect choice if you’re planting in a drought or extremely hot region or planting zone.
Trees – Many trees are perfect for planting in drought-prone areas. When cared for properly, the right type of tree can flourish and thrive even despite the heat they are growing in. Some options to consider if you’re planting trees in drought conditions could include the following.

  • Hackberry – With full, drooping branches, the hackberry tree typically grows 30’ to 50’ in height, but it can grow up to 100’ when growing in the right conditions. This drought resistant tree is easy to care for with minimal maintenance needed beyond occasional pruning in late winter. Plant in full sun to partial shade and water when top layer of soil feels dry.
  • California buckeye – Growing about 12’ to 40’ tall with large, white fragrant flowers, the California Buckeye is drought tolerant and conserves water during the hot summer months by dropping leaves early. Still, despite its ability to do with less water, this tree will look fuller and prettier with regular watering. The bark, leaves and raw fruit on the California Buckeye can be poisonous to both humans and animals if ingested. Plant in course soil.
  • Kentucky coffeetree – The average Kentucky coffeetree grows to around 60’ – 75’ and will spread about 40’ to 50’ wide, but they can grow as tall as 90’, given the right conditions. This versatile tree is drought tolerant and does best when planted in full sun in moist, organic, rich soil.
  • Eastern white pine – The Eastern white pine, also known as the Northern white pine, is the tallest tree in North America. Although the average height is 50’ to 80’, some trees have reached heights over 200’. It prefers well-drained or sandy soil, grows in sun or light shade and boasts moderate drought tolerance.
  • Shrubs – Choosing the right shrubs if planning a drought tolerant landscape is key to a long-lasting pretty yard. And drought resistant shrubs don’t have to be thorny and dry looking!
  • Common Witch Hazel – Witch hazel does best in moist soil but really can adapt well to most conditions. It thrives in full sun to part shade. After established, it requires little water and pruning is only necessary to achieve desired shape. Many gardeners love witch hazel for the showy winter presence it has, offering a sweet fragrance and color during the traditionally less productive time of year in gardens.
  • Juniper – Juniper needs well-drained soil and a well-sunlit area to thrive. It is slow-growing and doesn’t require much pruning, making it low-maintenance and excellent to grow in drought-prone regions.
  • Spirea – Spirea is a spring or summer blooming shrub that does well in just about any growing zone. Plant in full sun or light shade, but be aware that shaded growing conditions can stunt growth. Be sure to plant in well-drained soil.
  • Coyote brush – Coyote brush is a wiry shrub with waxy leaves that protect it from any moisture loss it may experience due to drought-like conditions. It does extremely well in areas that experience an extended, lengthy dry season or sporadic rainfall.

Drought Resistant Grass Types

Don’t think just because you live in a dry area or are experiencing a drought you can’t enjoy a gorgeous lawn or grassy landscaping. Drought resistant grass types are both hardy and beautiful.

  • Dymondia –Typically planted between walkways and stepping stones, dymondia can be a great lawn alternative in drought regions. Also called silver carpet, it has greyish-green leaves with a fuzzy white underside that make the plant look somewhat silvery. This grass substitute won’t tolerate high-traffic areas, but it is easy to protect it with pavers and walking stones if necessary. Full sunlight or light shade and well-drained, sandy soil is perfect for this lawn alternative. Though it is drought tolerant, it will require regular watering for the first 6 months after planting until matured.
  • Blue Fescue – Blue fescue is low-growing and great for edging walkways and borders. It can withstand the hottest, driest conditions, making it the perfect drought resistant landscape choice.
  • Zoysia Grass – Zoysia grass is not only drought resistant and hardy, it is also thick enough that it chokes out weeds, making it truly a low maintenance variety. It doesn’t need to be mowed often and requires only very minimal water and fertilizer once it is established. It holds up well to foot traffic and has an unusually deep root system and ability to adapt to a variety of soil types.

Drought Resistant Grass Alternatives and Ground Covers

Grass isn’t the only type of green foliage that works well for widespread coverage. Try one of these sprawling ground covers as an alternative to traditional grass in the yard. They are drought resistant and pretty, adding pops of unexpected color that can really wow.

  • Yarrow – Once established, yarrow is drought tolerant and easy to grow. It needs well-drained soil and full sun to really thrive but will do well even in poor soil. Not only does it tolerate heat, but it also produces a pretty flower to cut or dry.
  • Rockrose – A wonderful, delicate option when planting a water efficient landscape. The sage green leaves and papery bright pink flowers can make even the driest landscaping look lush and lively. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun and prune to train to the size you want.
  • Lantana – Lantana is another low maintenance ground cover that once established, is also drought tolerant. The wonderful thing about lantana is the variety you have to choose from. This dainty flowering ground cover produces either orange, red, white, yellow, blue or pink clustered flowers. One caveat though – there is a variety of Lantana that is a shrub cultivar, which can grow taller than 6 feet. Be sure to find the ground cover variety if that is the look you are after.

Water Saving Tips

When the days of summer become long and hot, keeping your yard looking lush can become water consuming and labor intensive. But there are several ways to improve the performance of your garden during those heated summer months. With just a little preventative gardening, it’s easy to reduce moisture loss and decrease time spent in the hot sun. Try these tips to conserve water during the blazing summer heat.

  • Amend soil with organic matter – To set a yard up for successful drought gardening, start with the soil. Digging in organic matter like well-rotted compost provides plants much-needed nutrients. It also stimulates beneficial worm activity and improves soil moisture retention. Simply amend soil in the spring, and plants will be better able to withstand the heat of summer.
  • Group by water need – No matter the season, designing a drought tolerant garden is easy. Just grow plants with similar water needs together, especially vegetables, herbs and annuals. Deep-rooted crops like tomatoes and winter squash are heavy feeders, thrive in the sun and require more water, while shallow-rooted crops such as spring radishes and salad greens grow well in partial shade and need less water. By grouping plants according to their sunlight and moisture needs, avoiding over (or under) watering is simple.
  • Water smart – Overwatering is a real issue when growing in drought prone areas. Take back control by installing electronic or mechanical water timers that will regulate water usage and timing. Soaker hoses are also a great way to ensure water isn’t being wasted on leaves and non-essential areas of the garden. A soaker hose will give thirsty roots the water they need without losing any moisture to runoff or areas that don’t need to be watered.
  • Apply mulch – Organic mulch is a must if you want to conserve moisture and insulate plant roots against the heat. Apply a natural mulch twice per year in the spring and fall. Garden beds and trees benefit from several inches of mulch spread over the soil, while containers need only an inch or two each season to help retain moisture.

Xeriscaping Ideas

Xeriscaping is essentially just keeping water usage in mind when planting your garden or yard. Xeriscaping ideas include both the smart watering techniques we just discussed as well as choosing plants that are more drought tolerant.

  • What is Xeriscaping? – Xeriscaping is landscaping that needs little to no irrigation or watering.
  • Where to Use Xeriscape Landscape – Any region, area or space can benefit from xeriscape landscaping, just keep in mind that certain plants are more drought tolerant than others and will do better with less or no watering.
  • Stone Walkways – Xeriscaping, landscaping that keeps water conservation in mind, is an increasingly popular drought resistant landscaping option. Instead of filling yards with large areas of thirsty grass or ground covers, consider using plants that require much less water. Better yet, combine greens with beautiful stone walkways and areas of decorative gravel. Placing ornamental grasses and small garden areas throughout the landscape can add that touch of green you may be yearning for while minimizing water usage.
  • Using Native Plants – If planting in an already dry or traditionally drought-likely area, using native plants that have already adapted to dry conditions will increase the chances that they will thrive.
  • Ornamental Grasses – Many types of ornamental grasses do well with minimal irrigation. Some drought resistant grass types are surprisingly self-sufficient and don’t need much, if any, additional irrigation once established. Keep in mind, though, most grasses, even drought tolerant varieties, will need ample water right after being planted. Their need will significantly decrease once established and matured.

Drought tolerant landscaping is a beautiful thing. It allows you to sit back and relax in the shade while reducing water usage. By watering mindfully, making wise landscaping choices and performing a little preventative gardening care, staying cool is easy and you know the yard will be gorgeous all summer long. It is not only possible, but actually very easy to have a lush yard with color, texture, and yes, even flowers, even if you are growing in an area that is historically dry.

Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

Ornamental grasses provide fantastic versatility in texture, color, and structure for virtually any garden, particularly those that receive less water. Even after frost has flattened other plants, grasses stand tall.

Purple fountaingrass sends out frothy seedheads that look particularly dazzling when backlit. Stunning maidengrass (Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’) can reach towering heights of 9 feet, making it a perfect fencelike border for the back of a bed. The graceful, arching leaves of Japanese forestgrass stay lower to the ground—about 16 inches or so—but have a cleanly contemporary look that’s perfect in restrained gardens.

Our free Planting Guide for this garden includes an illustrated version of the garden, a detailed layout diagram, a list of plants for the garden as shown, and complete instructions for installing the garden. (Free, one-time registration allows unlimited access to Planting Guides for all garden plans.)

Garden size: 33 x 24 feet

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Reliable Drought-Tolerant Plants

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Plant these self-sufficient species, and your watering tasks will be greatly reduced.

Gray-Green Foliage

  • Artemisia
  • Lamb’s-ears

Orange- and Yellow-Flowering

  • Butterfly weed
  • Bishop’s weed
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Gaillardia
  • Goldenrod
  • Red-hot poker

Blue- and Purple-Flowering

  • Catmint
  • Lamb’s-ears
  • Lavender
  • Purple coneflower
  • Russian sage

download this plan

OK, so California isn’t the only state going through a water shortage. At least 30 states in the U.S. currently have some level of drought, ranging from “abnormally dry” conditions in Florida and Massachusetts to the “exceptional drought” currently happening in California and Nevada. (How’s your state faring? You can check using the NOAA’s U.S. Drought Monitor.)

If you live in more one of more than half of the states on the list, water conservation is probably a high priority for you, but honestly, conserving water doesn’t mean you have to live with a dry and neglected garden. And it’s not the only reason to swap your water-loving lawn for a more drought-tolerant landscape. Today’s low-water gardens aren’t just smart and in vogue; they’re downright gorgeous.

These 5 drought-tolerant landscaping ideas look so fresh and modern that they’re an inspiration — even if water conservation isn’t your first goal.

Hate Gardening? Here Are 4 Reasons Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Is Right for You

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If you hate yard work, have never had a green thumb or simply do not have the time to perform landscaping chores, drought-tolerant landscaping might be the perfect choice for your yard.

There are a lot of misconceptions about low-water landscaping, including that it is boring, lacks color or will make your yard look like a desert.

Of course, none of this is true, and you might be surprised at just how impressive xeriscaping and other types of drought-tolerant options can be.

You might be even more surprised at just how many options there are when it comes to designing a low-water yard.

In fact, the choices available to you are so varied that you could design anything from a gorgeous yard that does not have even one plant or living thing in it to a lush, green garden where every inch of earth is covered with foliage.

And, more importantly, you will likely be very surprised and just how much time you can save when you give up those high-maintenance landscaping features and opt of low-maintenance choices, such as native plants, succulents, manufactured grass or paving stones.

Here are four reasons drought-tolerant landscaping is the perfect choice for folks who hate gardening.

1. You can have your cake and eat it too.

The fact that the broad array of choices in low-water landscaping allows you to have a beautiful yard with absolutely no plants to care for or a lush, verdant landscape with every inch of your yard covered in green was mentioned above.

But one of the really great things about re-designing your landscaping with water conservation in mind is that you can even have both.

It is true: You can have a lush, green yard without ever having to care for another living plant or tree.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by replacing the living landscape components in your yard, such as a natural grass lawn or flowerbeds, with attractive, easy-care artificial grass.

A synthetic turf lawn gives you the best of both worlds and allows you, your family and your pets to enjoy the look and feel of natural grass without the time-consuming maintenance requirements.

2. It will survive if you forget to water it…or feed it…or prune it.

Not everyone has a green thumb, and that is okay.

You can still have a colorful, beautiful garden without the innate ability to tell when a plant needs water or when a tree could use a little fertilizer.

Drought-tolerant landscaping typically includes native plants that have evolved in a manner that allows them to thrive in your area with little water and few ongoing maintenance requirements.

This means that if you forget to water them on your designated water day, you do not have to try to sneak them water under the cover of night in fear of being turned in by a well-meaning neighbor.

If you choose native, drought-resistant plants, you will notice that once they are established, you will no longer have to plan your week around making sure you are home to water on your designated watering days.

In fact, not only will you be able to skip watering days without worry, but you will also be helping work towards a time when Southern California homeowners may no longer have mandatory water restrictions that determine which days we can water.

As for fertilizing, pruning and other plant care tasks, while any plant is going to do better when properly cared for, you will find that most of the low-maintenance options you would use in a drought-tolerant landscaping redesign are going to survive just fine without any special care.

3. You may never have to pull weeds again.

Can you imagine a world in which you never have to pull another weed?

Depending on the landscaping features you choose, this weed-free world really is a possibility.

One option is to install an artificial grass lawn, which requires no weeding, mowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating or edging to achieve the beautiful and inviting look of a perfect lawn.

Another option is to turn your backyard into an amazing outdoor living and entertaining area with one or more paving stone patios.

Paving stones are attractive, durable and slip resistant, which makes them an ideal choice for outdoor entertaining.

You can create beautiful outdoor rooms that serve different purposes or one large, multifunctional space.

The array of styles and colors available makes it easy to select an option that harmonizes with the architecture of your home, and the variety of patio design options allows you to choose the perfect option to fit both your lifestyle and your personal style.

If you are ready to give up pulling weeds for good and get a backyard that is more functional and more attractive, contact one of our design consultants today to discuss your options and get your project started.

4. You can have a variety of textures and colors.

Many people mistakenly believe that low-water landscaping means giving up vibrant colors and varying textures.

This is simply not true.

In fact, you can actually have more color and texture in your yard when you redesign your landscaping with low-water, low-maintenance options.

This is particularly true if you are replacing a natural grass lawn, which is mostly shades of green, yellow and brown.

With native plants, shrubs and trees that require little water and care once established, you can still have plenty of green, yellow and brown, as well as pink, yellow, orange, red, purple, white, silver and blue.

Once you start looking into drought-tolerant succulents, flowering trees, and plants with vibrant blooms, you will likely be very pleasantly surprised at the wide array of colors you can add to your yard.

Your Turn…

Do you hate gardening? If so, how did you achieve a functional, attractive, low-maintenance yard?

Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Ideas

Why Is Drought-Tolerant Landscaping a Good Idea?

California’s new water restrictions carry hefty fines to help encourage households and businesses to curb water-wasting actions like watering plants and lawns during the day, washing your car, or even watering down your sidewalk or driveway.

With this continued drought, landscapes and lawns that used to be green and lush are all turning brown—and not just in the summertime anymore!

What About My Beautiful Lawn?

The phrases “zeroscaping” or “drought-tolerant landscaping” may bring to mind a dry, dusty, and dull landscape of sand and rock. We’re pleased to inform you this is simply a common misconception!

Below, you will find practical drought-tolerant landscaping ideas that are not only water-wise but increase the curb appeal of your home.

Learn more about each of these drought-tolerant landscape design techniques below.

1. Xeriscape

Xeriscape with Native Plants from San Diego

Xeriscaping, also known as “zeroscaping,” is a technique for landscaping in which use of water, energy, and chemical fertilizers is reduced as much as possible.

Save water without sacrificing beauty by using drought-tolerant succulents like Panda, Medicine, Jade, and Snake plants, as well as California native plants like the Desert Willow and the California Fuchsia.

Native plants are a staple for a San Diego xeriscape design company like us because they need very little care as they are already acclimated to San Diego’s climate.

Contact us today for softscape services in San Diego!

2. Hardscape

Hardscape Your Way to Water Savings

If you really want to eliminate landscaping water usage, you can use hardscaping to transform your backyard into a luxurious outdoor entertainment area. There are water incentives available in San Diego for home and business owners.

Replacing your stretch of brown grass with an extended patio, entertainment area, outdoor kitchen or pool is a great solution. Hardscape yards make space for activities, require less maintenance, and overall use fewer resources while still looking good.

While not always the best backyard option for homes with young children, hardscape design in San Diego makes for a nice, clean, and organized look that can’t always be accomplished with plants.

3. Turf Replacement

Replace High Water-Use Lawns with Native Plants

Since our founding in 2007, Eco Minded Solutions has been a leader in designing and building drought-resistant landscapes for homes looking to replace their lawns throughout San Diego County.

There are many alternatives to just accepting parched grass, bare dirt or gravel, or paying for expensive water (and risking fines for illegal overuse of water).

Why not sell that lawn mower and invest in a new surfboard?

4. Smart Irrigation

Still Not Ready to Give Up Your Lawn?

If you need a lawn for children to play in, or you just aren’t ready to let go of your green oasis, one way to reduce your water usage while keeping a lawn is to install underground irrigation, which is not covered by San Diego’s restriction on overhead watering.

We recommend this updated irrigation be installed at the same time the high water-use grass species is swapped out for a more water-wise grass or fescue.

Save Water for the Fish with Smart Irrigation

Smart irrigation systems help you save water through clever and efficient water distribution. Some of these low-water irrigation systems use drip irrigation, which can significantly reduce the risk of flooding your plants as well as reduce wasted water due to evaporation.

Coupled with instruments that can sense how sunny or wet it is, these systems help your landscape resist the drought with less maintenance and can even be set to auto adjust based on the weather so your plants receive the water they need, when they need it.

Lorianne and Tibor Baranyai were ready to shell out some serious cash to rip out their thirsty lawn and replace it with low-water landscaping.

Then came a better offer. As a result, a new L.A. company hatched by green investors has torn out their yellowing turf and put in a drought-tolerant yard — for free. And the couple walked away with an $850 cash dividend.

“Not having spent a single dime on it, I like it,” Lorianne Baranyai, 38, of Lake View Terrace said of her swath of decomposed granite and 120 new plants. “It saves water. We’re in a drought, and it’s the right thing to do.”

And an added benefit: “It’s free money.”

As water agencies across Southern California boost incentives for homeowners and businesses to swap out their water-guzzling lawns, Wall Street aims to help transform Main Street.

In exchange for lawn-removal rebates of up to $3 a square foot from utilities across the state — including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — a company owned by Parvus Rex Capital of New York that invests in small private “niche” companies is making Angelenos a first-of-its-kind offer.

By using such incentives, Turf Terminators of Los Angeles says it will rip out grass across the region and replace it with drought-resistant native landscaping at no charge — then hand homeowners 25 cents for each square foot of lawn it yanks out.

“We’re trying to inform people that having a lush green lawn in Los Angeles right now is like buying a Hummer when you’re running out of fuel,” said Ryan Nivakoff, founder and managing partner of Parvus Rex Capital, from his home in Florida. “Our goal initially is to make environmentally focused investments. This particular project is designed to save water and to help residents save money.

“I would say we’re the only investment group using water rebates on a broad scale to save water and do it for free for homeowners and pay them money.”

Within two days, each yard gets a plain bed of one of four patterns of decomposed granite dotted with saplings of flowering oleander and other Mediterranean climate plants and grasses.

While austere compared with verdant lawns, the low-water yards can cut a homeowner’s general water bill by half, officials say.

“It’s gotta be the new direction for Los Angeles,” said Lane McDonald, 63, of Lake View Terrace, as he admired the handiwork underway next door. “Because (water) isn’t getting any cheaper, and the cost and bills only go up.”

As such, this may be the strongest offer by one of many contractors aiming to cash in on $3 per square foot — which increased from $2 on May 14 — now offered by the DWP to remove grass. The Metropolitan Water District has also doubled its grass-removal rebate to $2 for 26 cities and water districts throughout the region. Northern California cities offer similar incentives.

Some landscapers in Los Angeles said they’d never heard of any company to offer a one-stop shop for rebates, yard removal and climate friendly plant replacement.

But while they were impressed Turf Terminators could do the landscaping job and still make money, some were less impressed with the work itself.

They said the type of plants it used, such as oleander and kangaroo red, were non-native, and that decomposed granite allowed little water to permeate underground.

“I haven’t heard of anybody doing that service with the rebate,” said Marilee Kuhlmann, past president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, Greater Los Angeles District, and owner of Comfort Zones Garden Design in Santa Monica. “It’s a great idea. People in the city are at that place. It’s timely.

“But they’re not native plants — not friendly, not kosher.”

Last month, teams of laborers from Turf Terminators began stripping sod from a half dozen homes across Los Angeles, including one owned by former MWD General Manager Ron Gastelum, who sits on the company’s advisory board. Adán Ortega of the California State Water Commission also sits on the board, and Solar City, the nation’s largest solar provider, is a listed partner.

“Metropolitan is pleased with the increasing popularity of our turf-removal rebates and that the community is responding positively to this water-savings incentive,” said Armando Acuña, a spokesman for the MWD.

With California in its third dry year, water experts have urged Southern Californians to trade their lawns for less thirsty choices, such as artificial turf or native southwestern flora. Gov. Jerry Brown, after officially proclaiming a drought in January, called for residents to cut water use by 20 percent.

Water agencies say turfgrasses are among the neediest plants in any landscape, causing the average homeowner to run 60 percent of their water outdoors. They say paying customers to remove a Bermuda lawn — which can suck 45 gallons per square foot per year — is ultimately cheaper than shelling out the water to feed it.

Since it launched its grass-removal incentive program in 2009, the DWP has replaced 8 million square feet of lawn — 2.4 million square feet of residential and another 5.6 million of commercial turf.

The combined savings, according to DWP officials: 755.9 acre-feet of water per year, or nearly 250 million gallons.

Parvus Rex Capital has offices in New York, San Francisco, Houston and now Los Angeles. Managing a $250 million pool of assets in real estate, debt, private equity and venture capital for three years, the company then shifted its focus to green investments in carbon reduction, energy and environmentally sustainable farms.

Nivakoff, an avid golfer from Connecticut who hails from a family of cops, has lived in the West and knows about water shortages, recalling the day he was on a driving range and saw a sprinkler shoot water 40 feet.

Half hit the ground, half vanished into thin air, and he realized how much water use could be cut simply by better plant management. And with that, the math whiz from Wall Street saw potential gold in a withering Golden State.

The average homeowner might spend between $5 and $7 per-square-foot using their government rebate to rip out lawns and replace them with California-friendly yards, he said. But through economies of scale in labor and plant purchasing, Nivakoff said his Turf Terminators can do the work for far less, especially for parks, commercial landscaping and golf courses.

“We want to help the little guy, those who don’t make much money and need help on their bills,” he said. “And that will lead to larger commercial applications in Los Angeles, Southern California and statewide.

“We want to expand our footprint and gain significant exposure and water reduction.”

On a recent day, a green team of four Turf Terminators had just finished the Baranyai yard in a cul-de-sac between the 210 Freeway and the San Gabriel Mountains, and its “native” haircut sat in stark contrast to its neighbors’ lush — and expensively quenched — lawns.

Beneath two large trees lay a bed of brown, punctuated by 120 oleanders, knee-high boxwoods and an assortment of bluegrass, sundown and kangaroo red just purchased from a local nursery.

“Looks great, we’re very pleased,” said Gavin Gillette, Turf Terminators’ director of operations. “She asked for a yard so her kids can play. I think she’ll be very happy.”

And she was — though it took some getting used to, she said, as the new turf attracted a few cats from their Northeast Valley neighborhood.

Having once spent $180 a month on summer water bills, the couple expects that will drop by two-thirds.

“I definitely would recommend it,” said Lorianne Baranyai, a property manager. “I found it crazy that my husband and I were about to pay $1,200 to have our lawn removed, and we get this job for free, a new lawn and money back.

“You couldn’t ask for more.”

California is no stranger to drought, and as it moves firmly into the middle of its fourth year in one, it’s time to rethink the landscaping options for your front yard.

A 1942 suburban home updated with a drought resistant front yard. (Image courtesy of Dante Silliman)

With statewide water restrictions in place, many homeowners have let their once green lawns wither away, or removed them completely. While these moves were necessary for water conservation, oftentimes the result is dried up patches of dead grass left in the front yard.

This drastically reduces the curb appeal of the house and makes the neighborhood unappealing for visitors and homeowners alike. Luckily, there are more options than ever to create a beautiful, drought-resistant landscape that’s easy to maintain and doesn’t depend solely on cactus or succulents.

Here are six landscaping alternatives that will make your neighborhood sing – no matter how hot it gets outside:

(Image via slowaterwiselandscaping.com)

Groundcovers

A hardy groundcover can take over where the lawn left off, putting down roots to prevent soil erosion and adding a splash of color while requiring little maintenance to keep them healthy.

There are many drought resistant plants to choose from, and these two examples both do well in the Sonoma County climate. The biggest consideration is whether the yard is primarily in the sun or the shade during the day.

In a yard that’s mostly sunny, Rockrose is an excellent choice that requires almost no care. (Image via Wikipedia)In a yard that’s mostly shade, creeping barberry will thrive; blooming yellow flowers mid spring and then blue berries in early summer. (Image via dragongoose.com)

Grasses

For those who miss having a lawn, there’s still hope. Decorative grasses can be added throughout, and don’t require mowing. Here are three varieties that flourish in Northern California:

(NOTE: This section had suggested Pampas grass, as I’ve had it in my backyard for years without realizing it’s an invasive plant. I’ve replaced my recommendation from Pampas grass to California sweet grass.) California sweet grass has delicate white flowers and will grow in shady conditions with average to low water. Bay Area native. (Image via Flikr/East Bay Wilds)Blue panic grass is a tufted, perennial grass that needs a minimum of care. (Image via Lisa Miner)Maidengrass is an ornamental grass that blooms in the late summer. (Image via Chalet Nursery) Some inspiration… (Image via Amazing Home Decorations)

Flowerbeds

Many gardeners might be mourning the loss of their annual flowers due to water conservation efforts, but there’s a slew of strong, drought-resistant perennials that are just as vibrant when blooming, and need much less attention to thrive. Here are the top three for California:

(Image via RockYards Landscaping) Autumn Joy has white buds in the warmer months, turning to rose-pink in the early fall.. (Image via Rave Plants) The Purple Coneflower adds a splash of color to any drought resistant yard, and has the added bonus of attracting butterflies in the warmer months. (Image via tastygardner.com) Bearded Iris comes in a wide array of colors. (Image via World of Irises)

Decorative Stone

Decorative stones, gravel, or aggregate can be used to create walkways, act as a backdrop for plants, and require zero water or maintenance. There’s a variety of rock offered at landscaping supply centers, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.

River rock is smooth, comes in various sizes, and differing shades from light gray to browns, blacks, and blue or green. (Image via Houzz) Decomposed granite is finer than gravel, and can be used in place of mulch to surround garden beds and trees. (Image via brooksconstruction.com) Pea gravel can be used on walkways, between pavers, or integrated with other rocks in the yard. (Image via braenstone.com)

A surefire way to make certain that the plants chosen for your yard will thrive in the California heat is to head to the nursery to pick out plants that are native to the area. These are the plants that have flourished through California’s cycles of drought and rain:

California native plants. (Image via powerofplants.com) California sagebrush is sometimes used as a spice in cooking, or as a tea. (Image via EthnoHerbalist) Manzanita: these evergreen shrubs have delicate looking pink blossoms that flower in late winter to early spring. (Image via laspilitas.com) Coyote brush is a hale perennial that blooms in the winter. (Image via Canative Garden)

Hardscape

Hardscaping is the ultimate in low-maintenance and creates a clean, minimalist look. Examples of hardscaping include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, and stone or brick walkways.

Stone walkway and retaining walls. (Image via Pioneer Landscapes) Walkway with pavers and pea gravel lead to the entrance of this Tudor-style home. (Image via Houselogic) The hardscape used in front of this contemporary home blends seamlessly with the architecture. (Image via hgtv.com)

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5 Drought Tolerant Landscaping Ideas to Consider for Your Home

31 Oct 5 Drought Tolerant Landscaping Ideas to Consider for Your Home

Posted at 14:18h in Landscaping by alohalandscape

Living in drought-prone areas makes maintaining your outdoor living space quite the challenge. A lack of regular water has the potential to completely ruin a beautiful landscape, especially when you need to be careful about water conservation during peak drought.

Many people simply give up hope of enjoying a beautiful landscape simply because they live in such a dry part of the country.
However, creating a beautiful landscape that thrives in drought conditions is certainly possible. You just need to plan a suitable landscape that has features designed to handle long periods of drought. There many great drought tolerant landscaping ideas well worth trying – here are 5 to consider for your home!

1. Install an artificial lawn
It is impossible to have to a lush green lawn during drought without wasting a massive amount of water on irrigation. Because of this, most people are happy to let their lawns go without water for most of the dry season, leading to brown and dying grass that isn’t easy on the eye.

A simple solution to this problem is to install an artificial lawn. Not only do you get a vibrant lawn year-round, you also never need to worry about the all the maintenance needed to keep a lawn good and healthy throughout the year.

2. Ditch the lawn completely
Another way to get rid of the hassle of trying to keep a lawn alive during a drought is to just remove it completely! Stone materials like gravel work well in outdoor landscapes, while pavers can be used to create winding walkways throughout the landscape, offering a sleek modern aesthetic.

Better still, it requires no maintenance beyond the occasional weeding, while you can add pots and drought-tolerant plants onto the surface to add bursts of nature throughout. A firepit is also a nice centerpiece in this style of landscape!

3. Drought tolerant plants offer a natural aesthetic
Ditching plants is unnecessary when it comes to drought – simply add plants that are tolerant to the weather conditions!
Succulents and cactuses are a great example of drought-tolerant plants that work well in landscaping. They come in various shapes and sizes, with foliage and blooms being a great way to add color, texture, and life to a drought ridden landscape.

4. Ornamental grass adds foliage
Ornamental grasses offer similar benefits to succulents and are good for adding diverse foliage in various colours throughout the landscape. Furthermore, there are several types of ornamental grasses that handle drought, including fountain grass, blue oat grass, blue fescue, and purple fountain grass.

5. Use perennials in flower beds for vibrant blooms
Most flower beds struggle to survive in drought-prone landscapes, but there are a few exceptions that can be taken advantage of. For instance, perennial plants are generally much more hard-wearing than annuals, allowing colourful flowerbeds to remain part of the landscape.

Russian sage, yarrow, salvia, lavender, and blanket flower are all fantastic drought-resistant perennials that add a diverse range of colors and textures to a flower bed. Better still, combine these with succulents, cactuses, and ornamental grasses to create breathtaking flower beds throughout the landscape.

Aloha Landscape and Design, is a full-service landscape company in Murrieta, we provide a one-stop shop for all areas of landscaping. We are the Inland Valley’s “go to” for Landscape Installation, Artificial Turf, Pavers, Concrete, Masonry, Block Walls, Water Features, Patio Covers, Low Voltage Lighting, Irrigation, Sod, Yard Drains, and Fences. No matter what type of service or design you are looking for, Aloha Landscape can help by providing you the highest quality of service in the industry, while ensuring you are satisfied with the finished project. To schedule a consultation, give us a call today at (951) 764-3577.

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