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How To Create A Drought Friendly Yard

Updated on August 4, 2015

Feelin' Thirsty

You don’t have to be living in California to know that the state has been hit by a severe drought. Not only have we made a point to ask for water help from neighboring states, but we’ve set laws in place that, when broken, have hefty finds attached to them. The laws are fairly limiting, asking all California residents to cut back on their water usage considerably, leading to wilted plants and browning crops. Though not everyone is always mindful of these laws, (I’m looking at you Tom Selleck), most people have done their part to cut back on their water usage, changing shower schedules to every other day, cutting back on hose-play during the summer months, and clearing out their yards to maintain a drought-efficient landscape. From rocks, succulents, and many different kinds of plants, a water friendly front yard is not only beneficial for the California environment, but pleasing to the eye as well.

How To Choose Drought Resistant & California Native Plants


I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the benefits of planting succulents in your yard. Not only do they add an architectural quality that lends a hand to making your yard look more geometrical, but also they are extremely drought efficient. Succulents don’t rely on water for their continued survival. In fact, most succulents require practically no water at all, or else they end up dying as a result. They are one of the most foolproof friendly plants for those black-thumbs out there, and unless they’re over-watered, survive for long periods of times in bright sunlight and dry heat. Likewise, succulents are easy on the pocket as they can be regrown from their leaves, meaning that you’re able to create a full succulent garden from only a few plants. Try swapping out your seasonal perennials that require a daily drench and supplement them with succulents from your local nursery or Home Depot. An added bonus? Succulents are desert plants, giving your home a classic California appeal.

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Pink Muhly Grass

Like succulents, Pink Muhly Grass requires very little water, preferring to instead rely on the heat and sun for its nourishment. If your yard has a lot of dry patchy areas, then you may want to consider looking into the pink muhly grass to give you yard back some much needed greenery. Plus, when summer comes to an end, the muhly grass turns to a cotton-candy pink color, with gentle wisps that sway in the air on the breezes. Unlike their distant cousin, Mexican Feather Grass, muhly grass is currently allowed in southern California and is not seen as invasive in their seedlings. This makes them an excellent alternative to their feather-like cousin, while boasting an even more pleasant color as the season comes rolling to an end. Just make sure that your muhly grass is placed in an area with bright sunlight and enough drainage for any lingering water to filter out and you’ll be good to go!

Creeping Sedum

Creeping Sedum, also known as stonecrops, survives where other fellow plants would otherwise die. If you have a stone walkway, for example, that was originally surrounded by lush grass before it died down with the California drought, then you’d do well to invest in creeping sedum from your local nursery. They grow quickly, spreading throughout the yard, while stopping weeds in their tracks. For this reason, they leave you with fewer visits from the gardener than you might otherwise be prepared for, and more money in your pocket because they grow and spread on their own. In early summer the perennial is topped with yellow buds that add a pleasant appeal to the eye for your yard. Like succulents, sedums are wary of the water, cringing from too much hydration and drowning on themselves when they are subjected to too much of it. This makes them an ideal plant for your yard and the perfect supplement to that dying grass between your stones and walkways.


Speaking of stones, of all the things on this list, stones require the least amount of water. Actually, they require no water, period. While you might be rolling your eyes and thinking, get on with it Kelsey, you should take heed of this fact. Stones come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, meaning that they can have as equally a beautiful effect on your yard as plants do. Not to mention, choosing drought-friendly stones helps provide drainage for whatever plants you do plan to use, which in turn keeps your plants from drowning themselves. Whether it be ledgestone, cobblestone, decomposed granite, or boulders you’re likely to find something to suit your specific aesthetic. Ledgestone, for example, is great for creating borders and pathways along your yard. With hues of pink and wine, this stone is a great compliment for sturdy, drought resistant plants. Rather than go rock crazy, however, I’d recommend getting in contact with a landscape specialist who’s able to provide you with a decent understanding of not only what you need, but how much of it your need. Rocks can be rather expensive to ship and place, especially if you don't know what to buy or how much of it you're yard actually needs.

Artificial Grass

If you’re one of those people who just absolutely can’t see themselves without grass in their yard, then you may need to resort to artificial grass. Made of synthetic material, artificial grass offers excellent drainage and provides your home with the real grass look and feel. This is a great option as it is safe for kids and pets, and unlike real grass does not tear out easily from walking, playing, or any rough-housing it might come across, meaning you no longer have to worry about large tuffs being torn out in the name of fun. For the ideal look and use it’s important to rinse the grass every one-to-two weeks so that any loose debris, pet potty issues, or dirt can be filtered out through the drainage patch beneath the stems that you see. Be aware, however, that artificial grass is expensive and if torn out can be expensive to replace, meaning that it is not the most cost effective of all of your options. Not to mention, because it’s not real grass (it only looks real enough), it still maintains a slightly artificial quality that may or may not be right for your aesthetic. Also, because the grass is made up of these synthetic materials it heats up quickly under the sun, often attracting more heat than real grass or other drought-friendly, landscaping alternatives.

As we head further into the summer months, California is sure to experience even more drought related issues, meaning that it’s going to require each of us to take a good look at our water using habits and where we’re able to cut back. Take a look at your yard. How many plants are wilted and dying, as they struggle to survive? More than that, how many plants require a daily burst of water to keep them alive? The drought is real, folks. Let’s each try and do our part to keep our state from becoming nothing more than a bedraggled pile of dust, unable to produce any sort of crop or flower in the near future.


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    • Kelsey Farrell profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 

      3 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Considering the gas price hike we just got this week, I might not suggest a move to California right this second haha! Aside from the gas and drought we're currently in, California has a very mild climate--luckily most of our summers are not super swamp-like. Thanks for stopping by!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      3 years ago

      That is very cool. Nice ideas. Here we go from bone-dry winters to swamp-like summers. I don't even know what to do. Maybe I should move to California.


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