My front lawn is dying! Well, we’re letting it happen. When my wife & I purchased our house a couple of years ago it had a lush, very curb-appealing green front lawn, edged with billowing blue Hydrangeas. Right off the bat, we had plans to convert it into a more water-wise garden. But working full-time and raising a 4-year-old has delayed our ideas for a bit. We can’t put it off any longer. 

Over the past few years we’ve all seen a significant decrease in our rain & snowfall totals. By now we are fully aware of the drought that our state is again experiencing. You can’t help but see a change in how plants have been affected, both in our native habitats and our neighborhood gardens. Some well-established or drought tolerant plants are thriving (i.e., Ceanothus & Manzanita). But many others are showing signs of a lack of water. Some plants may have a delayed response to the stress of drought conditions, taking a few years or so for the plant to show they are not happy (i.e.: Coastal Redwoods). Others are instantaneously affected by the missing ground moisture (i.e.: my lawn & Hydrangeas). Also, stress may make them vulnerable to bug infestations or diseases. 

Some local municipalities were at first “recommending” & pleading with residents to cut-down & conserve their residential water use. Now it seems almost inevitable that they will be putting restrictions on supplemental water use. Some “hold-outs” are still regularly irrigating their putting green-like lawns & lush fern grottos. But many grass lawns are now a very California gold color. As I drive around my neighborhood, I notice other folk’s front yards look similar to mine. Some look to be in the process, and some have recently been replaced with a creative “dry-scape” or with lush green artificial turf!  

Of course, a few neighbors who know where I work have been picking my brain about interesting plant options that won’t require regular irrigation, and still look cool. But, before I rattle off a plant list of dry ideas, one of my best recommendations is to walk, or drive around and take notice of some of the more established water-wise gardens. Quite a few of you have been water-conscious gardening for many years. You know that some plants didn’t quite work out, while others are doing great and continue to look better each dry year. Some develop deep tap roots to get the water they need. While others may have fuzzy leaves that aid in preventing moisture loss. Because all plants are different their watering needs may vary slightly, but most will eventually be happy with little to no irrigation once established. 

For many years, Berkeley Hort. has been conscious about, and provided customers with beautiful plant options for low-water landscapes, as well as proper gardening advice. Take a look in our DRY IDEAS Section for a collection of some of the plants we recommend. It’s not just cacti & succulents. You’ll find many creative & inspiring options for your garden like Grevillea, Hakea, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, Protea, Acacia, Aloe, Agave and Yucca. Many of these plants are very pollinator friendly. In every section of the nursery except the Aquatics you can find different water wise plant options, as well. Consider some Grasses, CA Natives, Conifers and even some Ferns & other shade tolerant plants.  

If you’re planning on redoing your whole landscape, design it using mostly low water plants. If you are renovating an old established garden, tackle it in small stages. Consider keeping regular irrigation on certain edibles or a cherished old Japanese Maple. Soon you’ll enjoy less time & money spent irrigating your garden and more spent enjoying the beauty that you’ve created!