Low Water Landscape Ideas for your Backyard

Can it get any hotter?

 The answer seems to be a resounding – Yes. 

This year is shaping up to top the record books, yet again, as one of the hottest years in recorded history across the planet. 

As we all learn to deal with the increasing heat, our plants and trees are also struggling to deal with the new higher temperatures. Water conservation will become more and more important, especially in those areas of the county where low rainfall and arid conditions make it a necessity. 

If your yard isn’t already as low water and heat tolerant as you’d like, then perhaps you’d  like to make some changes to your yard to help with the increasing temperatures. We’ve gathered a few ideas and things to consider when planning and planting for low water use landscaping. 

Landscape Rock

Consider changing out those large areas of lawn for decomposed gravel and low water ground cover plants. Gravel can be ordered in several different sizes to control the look and feel of your landscaping. From 4” river rock to quarter-minus, rose to desert brown the sizing and color of the rock you choose plays a huge role in the look and feel of your landscape. 

While the idea of losing your lush green lawn might be hard to image, maybe considering the cost savings associated with it will help. Landscape rock can cost between $30 – $50/ton and a ton of rock can cover 240 sqft, 2” thick. A 1000 square foott yard of grass costs on average, depending on local rates, $50 – $150.00 per month in water. Not to mention the cost of maintenance, winterizing lawns and time in upkeep. 

The same amount of water you use on your lawn every month, can be used year-round to supply drought tolerant plants and trees. 

Mounding and Drainage

Contouring your yard with mounding and directing water toward trees and plantings is yet another way to ensure you capture all of the water you use or receive. Check dams and tier garden beds have been used for centuries in arid parts of the world to capture and direct rainfall into areas where ground cover plants can hold on to and maintain the moisture in the earth. 

Mounding allows you to add some interest to the yard and create spaces for plantings to grow under the shade of a tree or beneath rocks to add interest. Just remember to direct the water away from the house, walkways and patios so you don’t undermine the foundation or walking surfaces. 

Planting Clusters for Color

When planning your planting plan, look for plants and shrubs that provide a variety of different colors and pops. Using all yellow or all red flowering plants might not provide the variety and pop your looking for. Look for low water plant guides that provide flowering color pallets and time of season flowerings. 

If you can, find flowering plants that help the pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. There are several species of desert plants, which by design are low water plants, that provide year-round flowering opportunities that support the many types of pollinators in your neighborhood. 

Agave and Cacti

While both do well in low water areas, some types of agave struggle in high heat and direct sun environments. While both agave and cactus are part of the succulent family, not all agave are cactus the difference being that some agave have leaves and cactus do not. 

Again, check with a locally produced planting guide to determine where in the yard to plant each type. 

While most people tend to shy away from cactus type plants due to their spines, which are an adaptation of leaves to help protect from animals and predators. Cactus actually produce some of the most visually vibrate flowering splendor seen in nature. The wide variety of colors, sizes and the rich nectar produced by these cacti species are a favorite of pollinators and jam producing flowers sought out for centuries. 

If you need more help with the planning and plantings of a more drought tolerant yard, check out some of the resources listed below. We hope this has been helpful, if you would like more information please leave a message in the comments.

Sunset magazine

Gardenista

Dwell

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