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Practical Advice on Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Drought tolerant landscaping is a very hot topic of discussion right now!  Water scarcity is big part of life in California, which has been made even clearer in this latest year of drought. With water scarcity being such a big issue, I thought this would be a good time to provide some practical advice on drought tolerant landscaping.

Because this is such an important topic this will be the first part of a two-part series. In the first segment, below, I will briefly discuss alternative suggestions to grass and irrigation recommendations. In the second series I will discuss drought tolerant plant, shrub and tree selections.

The “good” news is that there are a variety of landscape options that exist for creating beautiful, yet drought tolerant landscapes.

Alternatives to Grass

Grass is an enormous user of water. Consider trading in your “golden” lawn for artificial turf, or perhaps boulders or rock formations intermingled with lovely drought resistant plants and shrubs as another option.

You might consider changing the type of turf grass you are growing. Warm-season turf grass such as Bermuda grass and buffalo grass can replace traditional cool-season grasses such as tall fescue and ryegrass. Warm-season turf goes dormant in fall and winter but impressively uses about 25% less water than cool-season counterparts


Drip irrigation is a targeted way to ensure water is being applied directly to a plant’s root zone and not ‘lost’ outside the reach of those roots.  If you do not have drip irrigation, increasing the uniformity that water is applied across a lawn, fixing broken sprinkler heads, and irrigating based on climate zone can reduce water waste by 20-50%.

Switching from a fan spray irrigation system to a multi-stream rotary system that waters more evenly and more slowly over the surface of your turf can also save water and decrease water and chemical runoff.

Source: California Institute of Water Resources

Source: SF Gate

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