Xeriscaping Made Easy: 10 Gorgeous Southern California Low-Water Landscape Ideas

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Xeriscaping Made Easy: 10 Gorgeous Southern California Low-Water Landscape Ideas


Have you heard the rumors about California running out of water?

If you believe everything you read on the internet, you’ve probably looked into a private out-of-state water source. In case the rumors are true, what are you doing to conserve water?

There are many things you could do, like turning off the water while brushing your teeth, or re-using your pasta water.

The state appreciates your concern but there’s something more practical you can do and it doesn’t include cooking with grungy old water.

Say “hello” to xeriscaping! We’ve put together a list of 10 fun and stunning low-water landscape ideas for homeowners who want to do their part to save precious resources.

First, explore our suggestions. Next, give us a call. We have everything you need to get started on your gorgeous new lawn.

Grow Rocks in Your Yard

Of course, we know you can’t grow rocks, silly. But they make great accessories in low maintenance lawns.

Xeriscaping practices have probably been around since the birth of agrarian societies. The word was first used in 1981 Nancy Leavitt of the Denver Water Board created the word “xeriscape” by joining the Greek word “xeros,” which means dry, with the word “landscape.” Xeriscaping or literally dry landscaping is growing in popularity all over the country.

Southern California is no stranger to drought and long-term water restrictions making the state the perfect climate for alternatives to high maintenance and water-thirsty lawns.

You can’t get any drier than rocks.

Dry doesn’t mean lifeless, however, and a well-designed rock garden teems with life. Creating a rock garden doesn’t mean you have a truckload of rocks dumped in the yard and you’re done. You’re building a rock garden, not a rock yard.

Choose a mixture of rough and smooth rocks. Add in a boulder or two. Create contrast with a variety of drought-resistant plants and shrubs.

Many of the plants that thrive in rock gardens are classified as perennials and do well in gardens created by those who prefer a space with less rock and more year-round color.

P Is for Perennial

Low maintenance landscaping doesn’t have to be boring.

Planting a perennial garden is ideal if you like the idea of plants that bloom every year. Perennials are like reliable friends, you know when they’ll arrive and you have a pretty good idea of when they’ll leave.

Perennials are not labor-intensive as far as human labor goes. Most of their energy is concentrated in the root system. Perennial’s roots sleep during the winter, taking time to develop strong deep roots.

Plant Russian sage or penstemons for a delicate infusion of purple. Use Mexican tulip poppies for a vibrant splash of color. Perennials bloom for short periods of time, so consider planting your perennial garden with plants that bloom at varying times.

Lawn Mower for Sale

We’re kidding. Don’t sell your lawn mower yet until you explore your options for no-mow and low maintenance grass.

The whole point of xeriscaping is designing landscapes that don’t need much water. Certain grasses can live on no more water than what comes from the sky. These same grasses often don’t need mowing more than a couple of times each year.

Fescue is a popular low maintenance grass in Southern California.

If you’re not ready to get rid of the lawn mower yet ease into a no-mow landscaping design by planting fescue in border areas first. Or create islands of fescue surrounded by groupings of landscape rocks and ground cover.

Don’t forget to plant grasses and plants attractive to helpful bugs and insects.

Fly Away Home

Although the words “fly away home” refer to a rhyme about wayward ladybugs, why not encourage butterflies to fly to your garden?

Butterflies enjoy both bright sunlight and cool shade. It’s all about location if you plan to invite butterflies to share your garden space.

Xeriscape plants like sage and purple coneflower attract butterflies. They also like flat stones for sunning. Add a butterfly puddler to give them a place to drink water.

The entire family can enjoy taking turns on butterfly watch. Butterflies and flowers also make great photo ops.

If you’re not interested in creating a garden solely devoted to butterflies, a meadow has many of the same features.

Welcome to My Meadow

Meadows don’t feature a single grass. Instead, they’re designed using a combination of grasses and wildflowers sprinkled with native plants and shrubs.

The reason meadows work well as lawn alternatives in Southern California is they’re drought tolerant and require minimum maintenance.

One thing to keep in mind about meadows is foot traffic. They don’t like it!

What meadows do thrive on is a selection of grasses like fescue. Plant a variety of colorful annuals and perennials, and bulbs such as the California iris.

One way to enjoy a meadow garden without disturbing plant life is to build a footpath leading to a brick firepit with seating. Plant sedge around the area and create a backdrop of taller plants like lupine and yarrow.

If you prefer something not as wild consider a landscape with a dry creek bed as the focus.

A River Runs Through It

One of the challenges of drought-ridden landscapes is disbursing precious water evenly, so all plants that need it to receive at least a small amount of moisture.

Instead of water pooling in one place, a dry creek bed encourages water to flow freely.

The key to designing a dry creek bed is to make it look natural.

Think about the creeks you’ve walked along. Do they bend and curve or do they look like a straight road?

Dry creek beds begin as trenches. The dug-up soil is used to create planting mounds on the sides.  Add boulders of various sizes and fill in with landscaping rocks.

Complete your design by filling in with a wide range of xeriscape plants. Another favorite of gardeners looking for lawn alternatives is the garden designed as a desert environment.

A Desert Oasis

Structure and texture define desert gardens.

Arid climates are typically full of plants that have adapted to an environment that gets little to no rain. These plants are called xerophytes.

Your desert oasis should include rocks, sand, and native cacti and succulents. One concern in droughty climates is minimizing water use. Use mulch to reduce the soil temperature and decrease evaporation.

Another low maintenance landscaping idea is to create a zen experience.

Japanese Garden…So Zen

Stone. Pebbles. Sand.

Add a touch of bamboo, a tea ceremony basin, pagoda lights, and perhaps a statue of Buddha.

These are all elements of gardens created in Japan and meant to be places of meditation. Japanese gardens also include koi ponds and other water elements.

Incorporating xeriscaping into Japanese gardens is easy when you choose drought-resistant plants, especially perennials like hostas.

Time for Tea

England is known for enchanting cottage gardens. And tea.

Cottage gardens were created in reaction to structured formal estate gardens in 1870s England.

You never know what you might find in one but you’re sure to encounter a cheery mixture of shrubs, small trees, roses, and other climbing plants, and herbs.

The elements of cottage gardens are easily adapted to low maintenance landscapes. If the idea of growing herbs alongside ornamental plants is appealing, think about creating a drought-friendly food garden.

Goodbye Lawn Hello Dinner

One way to convert your thirsty demanding yard into a water-savvy lawn alternative is to turn portions of it into a food garden.

This works great if you already have flower beds. Plant herbs, cruciferous vegetables, and lettuces among your perennials. You’ll still use water but you’ll save money once you harvest by not buying high priced produce from the grocery store.

Besides, homegrown always tastes better!

Try Xeriscaping with Us!

Xeriscaping sounds fun, doesn’t it? Cal Blend Soils Inc. has everything you need to prepare your lawn for low-maintenance landscaping. Contact us today and we’ll help you get started.