Low-Water Plants Important in Drought

When your front yard is struggling to survive and you are looking for a garden that doesn’t bake in the sun or raise your water bill so much, you may want to consider low-water solutions in the form of plants. It may be time to add mostly low-water plants that give the yard all-season appeal. In addition, permeable paving helps rainfall percolate easily into the soil. You may want to cover paths in the garden with gravel and a small square patio in the front yard with decomposed granite.

Perennials, Shrubs Come in Handy

It is little wonder that lawns demand about an inch of water each week during the growing season. However, in some places, that is difficult to provide. What one expert did was create a traffic-stopping tapestry of plants that would survive on half the water. That involved ripping out much of her lawn and replacing it with a mixture of perennials and shrubs. Since her property is situated on a moderate slope, passersby now enjoy a sweeping view of the garden from the street below. And the bed looks great year-round. She also used a sod cutter to remove unwanted sections of turf. She stacked the sod beside the street and posted a “free” sign; it was gone in five hours. Next, she tilled a 6-inch layer of planting mix (a commercial blend of compost, ground bark, peat moss, and sand) into the soil, removing roots and large rocks as she worked.

Finally, she planted sweeps of perennials and shrubs. Most of the perennials were spaced at 6- to 8-inch intervals; some organic fertilizer (a 5-5-5 formula) was also added.

Right plants, techniques essential

Evergreens that are drought tolerant ― chosen for color, texture, and lushness ― can fill the bill when it comes to your garden. They include dwarf agave, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, coreopsis, lavender, nandina, rosemary, santolina, and yucca. It is important when planting the berms that you arrange the low-growing varieties at the base and tallest ones at the top so that all plants are in view. It is good to group them to give a sense of mass. There should be plenty of space. The plants should grow in well-spaced clusters, allowing their natural forms to shine. Read plant tags. Match plants’ mature sizes with the area you’re filling so you won’t have to prune them into submission. Flagstone paths curve from the street and the driveway to the front door. To give the flat ground more interesting topography, build a low berm of soil on either side of the main walkway. Between the paths and the berms, lay down weed cloth and top it with permeable pea gravel so excess water can soak into the earth rather than run off into the street.

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