Rain, Rain, Where are You? Parched and thirsty we’d be true.

Okay, my rhyme above isn’t great. But I should come up with a alternative nursery rhyme about where the rain went, because it’s no where in sight of Southern California! I vaguely remember the last time it rained and I think that was before Thanksgiving. I really shouldn’t complain, especially after visiting frigid New York, yet I’m beginning to think SoCal is turning into stark desert before my very eyes.

Not that Southern California was ever moist to begin with, but the lack of rain we received last year was startlingly low and this year isn’t looking too wet either. I’m predicting water prices will begin to skyrocket if we don’t get a nice drenching soon.

Which brings me to planning a landscape for a dry, hot, and windy environment.

If the bottom half of California does indeed turn into a desert landscape more similar to Death Valley, then lush, green lawns will be a thing of the past. Of course, rock lawns have never piqued my interest and I’m sure plenty of people will agree with me that they look a bit uncreative and boring.  Sorry Arizona natives! Instead Xeric landscaping is a more creative solution; using low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants that are native to the area.

A nature-inspired look using information about the local climate and flora, xeric gardening and landscaping can minimize water waste and save money.

Xeric landscaping: Photo image from Houzz

Here’s how xeriscaping works:

  1. Choose plants that are native to the area. In Southern California, poppies, bluebells, daisies, and lupine are examples of “wild flowers” that grow naturally with little irrigation. You can easily find native species using Sunset’s Plant Finder or Better Home’s and Garden’s native plant list.
  2. Minimize the amount of irrigation needed by taking advantage of mulch and planting location. Applying an inch or two of mulch will help soil retain moisture. Planting plants in the right location, for example on the east side of a building for shade-loving plants or west for sun-loving plants, will allow plants to flourish.
  3. Find a plan that works for your yard. Instead of planting willy-nilly and ending up with an unsightly mess of a yard, find some inspiration and a plan. A few places to begin are Better Homes and Gardens landscape plans and Houzz xeriscape design ideas.

Adding in paver stones, paths, and bushes or trees gives a xeric landscape a textured look that’s natural and low maintenance. Planning such a yard might seem daunting and will cost a little more up front, but will save money on maintenance (no need to hire a gardener or spend money on gas for the lawn mower!) and water (grass takes a lot of water to be green which means spending a lot of green!)

And for those that don’t have a yard yet, choosing potted succulents is a great alternative to delicate flowers. They take very little water or maintenance to survive and thrive. I should know, my succulents rarely get watered and still bloom year-round.

Have you been thinking of switching to a low-maintenance or drought-tolerant landscape?

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