Los Angeles Times


T he news seems dire: The Western U.S. is experienci­ng what is being called a 1,200year drought event. Reservoirs are lower than ever, and water is becoming a scarce resource.


So, what are the millions of Southern California homeowners to do? We all want a healthy yard and garden, but with severe limitation­s on watering, many have no choice but to let lawns turn brown and gardens go fallow. Unless...

Xeriscapin­g, defined simply as landscapin­g that requires little to no irrigation, is perfect for the arid Southwest, and luckily for Southern California homeowners, the results can be stunning. Using drought-resistant plants, gorgeous rock gardens, or even native SoCal styles, creating a yard that is the envy of your block can be easy, cost-effective, and most importantl­y, steward water savings in today’s crisis-level drought.

But where to begin? For most, the first step is removing thirsty landscapin­g from their homes. Many older home plots had lush lawns installed – perfectly suburban in appearance, but antithetic­al to California’s climate. Removing the lawn and any other plants requiring lots of moisture (think: tropical flowers, delicate shrubs or some fruit trees) can make an enormous difference with water usage. Best of all? Some municipali­ties will offer a stipend to remove your lawn, like LADWP’s Turf Replacemen­t Program.

Now that the yard is a blank canvas, consider the basics. According to calrecycle.gov, the best place to start landscapin­g is with well-drained soil, which absorbs the maximum amount of water and allows steady root developmen­t. If you don’t know what kind of soil you have, testing services can help optimize it for native plants or drought-tolerant exotics.

Once that’s sorted, it’s time for the fun part: Choosing from a multitude of beautiful grasses, shrubs and trees. For inspiratio­n, look no further than Southern California’s beautiful landscapes – sea grasses, chapparal sage, succulents and cacti, and native trees, like the coastal live oak, will all thrive in this Mediterran­ean climate with minimal irrigation. Adding in flowers like catmint, lavender or coneflower offers a gorgeous pop of color to these otherwise earthy tones.

Once plants are chosen, complete the look with a beautiful rock garden. Crushed stone, decorative larger rocks and even boulders can create spacing, tiers and add visual dynamics to a flat plot, all while allowing for maximum water absorption. When your plants mature, you’ll have a meandering, lush garden path to wander through and enjoy for years to come, while never having to worry about overusing a precious resource.

 ?? Photo by Katy / Adobe Stock ?? Planting a drought-tolerant garden can be an important step towards household water savings.
Photo by Katy / Adobe Stock Planting a drought-tolerant garden can be an important step towards household water savings.

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