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What is a Drought Tolerant Garden?


Curb appeal should be a primary concern for anybody who is considering selling their home. Planting lush, drought tolerant gardens for your home will make it more appealing to perspective buyers and help you achieve maximum return from the sale of your home.


Southern California is known for its nearly year-round perfect weather. That means clear skies, lots of sun, and very, VERY little rainfall- except this week! Since our local fresh water supply is not being replenished, most of the fresh water used by Southern California has to be brought in from other places. It is an expensive process, and we still risk running out of water. At least half of Los Angeles County’s available drinking water is used to irrigate our lawns. That is why more and more Californians are choosing to replace their water-thirsty lawns with low-maintenance, Drought Tolerant gardens. 

A Drought Tolerant garden is one that requires no irrigation because the plants get by on rainfall alone. Yes, even in a dry location like Southern California, drought tolerant plants still survive and thrive, and creating a beautiful, drought tolerant, garden is easy- it just takes a little planning. This involves cleaning the garden- removing any trash, weeds, dead plants, that old husk of a pickup truck in the front yard. (C’mon. It’s time to let go.) If you already have drought tolerant plants, you may choose to keep them, but everything else should be removed. Determine what type of soil you have and how it captures and directs rainfall so that you can use this to your advantage when planning your garden. A smart layout will allow your garden to thrive. Put in the time now to properly plan and tend to your garden, and you will reap the benefits. Not only do drought tolerant gardens save time, money, and water, but they can help increase the value of your home!

When searching for plants for your drought tolerant garden, look for ones with stiff, leathery leaves, silvery or hairy leaves, tiny little leaves, and solar tracking leaves (leaves that tilt in the sun’s direction throughout the day), as these are all good indicators of a drought tolerant plant.

​Below is a list of low-water-consuming plants that are easily available:

​Perennials, Shrubs, and

Ornamental Grasses
• Agave species (Agave)
• Alyogyne huegelii (Blue Hibiscus)
• Arctostaphylos species (Manzanita)
• Artemisia species (Sagebrush)
• Ceanothus species (California Lilac)
• Chamelaucium uncinatum (Geraldton Waxflower)

(pictured above: Geraldton Waxflower) 
• Cistus species (Rockrose)
• Dudleya species (Live Forever)

• Echeveria species (Hens-and-Chickens)

(pictured above: Hens-and-Chickens)
• Encelia californica (California Encelia)
• Galvezia speciosa (Island Bush Snapdragon)
• Grevillea species (Grevillea)
• Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)
• Lavandula species (Lavender)
• Leucophyllum species (Texas Ranger)
• Lobelia laxiflora (Mexican Bush Lobelia)
• Mahonia nevinii (Nevin’s Barberry)
• Melalueca nesophila (Pink Melaleuca)
• Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle)
• Nassella species (Needlegrass)

• Penstemon species (Penstemon)

(pictured above: Palmer’s Penstemon)

• Rhus species (Sumac)
• Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
• Salvia, selected species (Sage)

(pictured above: Mexican Bush Sage)
• Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue-Eyed Grass)
• Tapetes lemmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy)
• Verbena, selected species (Verbena)

• Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)
• Chitalpa tashkentensis (Chitalpa)
• Geijera parviflora (Australian Willow)

(pictured above: Australian Willow) 
• Laurus nobilis (Sweet Bay)
• Olea europaea ‘Swan Hill’ (Swan Hill Olive)
• Pinus eldarica (Afghan Pine)
• Prosopsis chilensis (Chilean Mesquite)
• Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak)

(pictured above: Coast Live Oak) 


• Bougainvillea species (Bougainvillea)
• Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cat’s Claw)

• Vitis californica (California Wild Grape)

(pictured above: California Wild Grape)


• Buchloe dactyloides (Buffalograss)
• Cynodon dactylon (Hybrid Bermudagrass)
• Zoysia ‘Victoria’ (Victoria Zoysiagrass)


Ground Cover
• Acacia redolens ‘Desert Carpet’

(pictured above: Acacia redolens ‘Desert Carpet’)
• (Dwarf Prostrate Acacia)
• Achillea species (Yarrow)
• Baccharis species (Coyote Brush)
• Cotoneaster dammeri (Bearberry Cotoneaster)
• Lampranthus species (Ice Plant)
• Lantana montevidensis (Trailing Lantana)
• Myoporum parvifolium (Myoporum)
• Sedum species (Stonecrop)

On a personal note, we replaced our back yard with turf a few years ago. It created another "room" for our family – especially because 3/4 of us play soccer year round. We entertain a lot more because of it. We are working on a family project on our side yard and parkway and experimenting with succulants and California natives and dry-scape. I have started to propagate new plants from cuttings to keep the cost down. (free!) For more tips on preparing your home for sale, download my Free L.A. Seller’s Guide.

Los Angeles County has published a fantastic guide to starting and maintaining a drought tolerant garden. Contact me for a downloadable PDF!


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