Tips for Creating a Drought-Resistant, Low Maintenance Yard

Front_Yard_Gardens_(01)With much of the western United States currently experiencing extreme drought conditions, many residents of these areas are considering redoing their landscaping to conserve water. It’s estimated that approximately half of all residential water consumption is used for landscape maintenance, so incorporating drought resistant features into your home can make a big difference. Drought tolerant yards can be beautiful, full of life and low maintenance while still being environmentally friendly.

Drought Tolerant Grass

Just because you live in a dry area doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a lovely lawn! However, the most popular types of grasses tend to favor cooler climates. This means that if you live in a hot western state you’ll end up using extraordinary amounts of water to keep these varieties alive. Consider planting drought tolerant grass to preserve water and add to the beauty of your yard. In particular, Zoysia turf grass is an extremely heat and drought resistant variety. (Source: Native to parts of Asia, this grass produces a green, hearty lawn that is thick, slow growing and resistant to weeds. This highly adaptable grass will save water, reduce time spent on weeding and mowing and requires little in the way of fertilization.

Cultivate Native Plants

When planning what foliage, grasses and trees to cultivate it’s important to consider the plants that naturally thrive in your region. Taking a stroll in a wilderness area can give you some ideas as to which species thrive without much human intervention. Visiting a local nursery to speak with professionals can provide you with information about which plants are best suited for your yard. The benefits of installing area-specific drought resistant plants are numerous: you’ll rarely have to water, the plants will thrive in the heat, you’ll enjoy a natural beauty that is unique to your geographic area and you’ll be supporting the local ecosystem by preserving indigenous flora.

Landscape with Stone

Also referred to as “hardscaping”, incorporating stone areas into your yard is a great way to reduce your impact on the local water supply. Many people have replaced their lawns with gorgeous ornamental gravel, dotted with heat tolerant grasses or succulents. Incorporating clever patches of gravel, such as a pathway or stone river, into your existing garden catches any water runoff and preserves moisture. The possibilities with hardscaping are virtually endless and only limited by your imagination. Hardscaping can greatly reduce the amount of water you use to maintain your yard, minimize evaporation and add visually striking features to your garden.


Mulching is an important practice in areas affected by drought. Mulch comes in a variety of materials and can be an attractive element of a drought-resistant yard. Covering your garden and other areas of your yard with an appropriate material can help to preserve moisture, protect topsoil, prevent erosion, discourage weed growth and prepare the area for future planting use. It can also protects any existing trees in your yard if you mulch the area surrounding the base. By maintaining moisture, providing nutrients to the soil, discouraging evaporation and shielding the surface root area from the unforgiving heat of the sun, mulch can save or extend the life of your trees.

There are many options to consider when you decide to redo your landscape to cope with drought conditions. Most of these landscaping ideas are fairly low cost and easy to do without hiring a professional. By making small changes over a period of time, you can end up saving hundreds of dollars annually on your water bill. You’ll also feel good about preserving precious resources for future generations.





Erin Emanuel